Free-Floating Hostility

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Blogging about Blogging

The Big Daily across the River just explained in print that it will no longer cover the baseball teams in the Bay like a newspaper. It will still have a beat writer, but that person will be sent to produce magazine-style feature pieces rather than doing game stories and notes, as is the general method for those who cover baseball teams. This is a cost-cutting move, but it is refreshing to see that the Big Daily's management is at least a little embarrassed about pulling back on the coverage in a self-proclaimed "baseball town." It has, of course, rekindled the old discussion about how the hell the news business is going to survive in the 21st century.

The general answer right now seems to be to cut back on coverage. Every newspaper is starting blogs and doing podcasts, but no one has any real passion for it. Maybe what we're learning is that enormous publically-held companies can't be trusted to protect journalism. Because people are always going to need news. Blogs are not capable of replacing the old media. In fact, if all the newspapers in the country started charging for content tomorrow, the blogosphere would vanish. The problem is that as companies squeeze out every drop of profit out now before the old model dies, rather than trying to smoothly segue into the 21st century.

Newspapers are now franchises, trusted names that bestow a certain credibility to the information. Online publication, which is the eventual future, frees you of the traditional constrants of newshole. Your space is theoretically infinite so you should be offering more, not less. In fact, the truly committed Bay Area sports fans probably reads parts of four different newspapers to find the best coverage of their favorite team. Profits will probably never be the same as they were at the height of print, but there's still money to be made. This short-sighted profit-squeezing is killing the news business.

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