Sunday, January 3, 2010
The newspapers have been taking a heavy beating lately. Associated Press listed just a few victims of the tough times as follows.
The owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, other daily newspapers and TV stations sought Chapter 11 protection in December 2008, burdened by $13 billion in debt. Most of it came from a complex buyout in which Sam Zell took the company private in 2007.
And that was just for starters. Freedom Communications Holdings Inc, Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, Sun-Times Media Group Inc, Journal Register Co, and Star Tribune Holdings Corp. have all sought the protection of bankruptcy laws.
Some of the problem is with the content that is being delivered, but a lot is because of the massive displacement caused by the effect of the internet.
Those who aspire to being professional journalists are also suffering. And it cuts across the political spectrum. The Washington Times, a conservative beltway alternative to the Washington Post is reportedly dropping its sports section. The Wall Street Journal however, by reading its audience and through new management has bucked the trend, increasing its subscribers at a time when other papers are shedding theirs
I believe that there is a solution. There are already magazines and newspapers that offer digital subscriptions. I subscribe to Harpers and the New Yorker in order to benefit from the full range of their content as well as their respective archives going back to day one.
But what about all of the other newspapers and magazines? I can't afford to subscribe to them all. There is, I believe, an alternative. What if there were a cyber arcade where you could pay a flat fee for unlimited browsing of all the periodicals they offer? An alternative would be buying cyber tokens that could be exchanged for individual articles or entire magazines. There could also be the option of downloading entire articles or magazines. Statistics could be kept of how many people clicked on a given magazine or newspaper so the fees paid could be properly credited to each periodical producer. Something like Miniature Golf Digest or Fingernail Health Gazette might get less hits than say Sports Illustrated in February. This would have the added advantage of providing magazine owners with information about what readers are interested in.
An additional support tool would be a search engine of the various cyber kiosk sites. Magazines could agree to list articles on a trial basis that aren't a regular part of their printe editions. This could show them which up and coming authours have potential as regular columnists.
The internet has created a lot of displacement. Mainstream recording artists are being hurt by file sharing, as are published authours. The flip side is that of the up and coming talent that now has new opportunities for exposure, even as pay for their creative material becomes more elusive. A little bit of creativity could make it financially profitable for struggling writers by the thousands to produce new and high quality material for readers and viewers. The recovery of our ailing media is one small part of the national recovery we are all striving for. When are we going to make it happen? Sphere: Related Content