It remains a dicey time for newspapers. The New York Times put up a paywall for serious subscribers at the end of March and, with all it's wrinkles, it's too early to tell whether paid Web subscriptions are the likely answer for sustaining print media in the Internet age. After only a month of the Times' paywall (after a free allotment), the omens from New York aren't great, but Tom Matlack, formerly of The Providence Journal, is keeping a stiff upper lip in writing about "The Rebirth of Newspapers".
Matlack was the Chief Financial Officer of The Providence Journal Company in the mid-1990s, when it was in an ownership transition. He loves print journalism and agonizes through his subject matter. At the close of his piece, he declares that The Times, or any newspaper, "is no longer a nicotine delivery system. Taste and quality information, the truth as determined by rigorous reporting, is the only objective. Not selling cars or sofas.
"So fear not. Your paper is not dead. You just have to demand, and be willing to pay for, a news product worthy of your affections."
Those "affections," of course, are key. The fate of newspapers seems wrapped up in the effectiveness of the American educational system overall. Do people want to be reliably informed badly enough to pay for news on the Web? We're in the rather excruciating process of finding out.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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