Mark Potts has this observation on the troubles Knight Ridder faced, the Tribune Company is facing, and the New York Times has on the horizon:
“Ultimately, this is about much more than The New York Times Co., or Tribune, or Knight Ridder. The whole industry is in play. Where does it end? Gannett doesn’t have the kind of stock protections that the Times has; some investor might eventually jump that company. McClatchy could be a target, if it can’t adequately digest Knight Ridder.”
There is a cataclysmic change underway. It has to do with finance and profits, but it also has to do with a slow but steady slide into irrelevance. Newspaper circulation was on the decline before Jayson Blair, Glenn Reynolds, and Dean Singleton made their moves.
Decades of agenda-setting and cherry-picking have come home to roost. There are ways around it for the metros if they play their cards right: The analytic use of databases, in-depth investigations, and narrative journalism are just a few ways to stay relevant.
Video done right and multimedia and interactivity might make better use of the online medium than text, but they don’t solve problems of relevance or news judgment.
Frankly, I don’t know if newspapers can innovate online fast enough to get ahead of the Web. At best, the newspaper business is constantly playing catch-up with start-ups and the giants that absorb them. And every new generation of readers grows up with less trust of monolithic media, and more trust in their own social network. I’m not sure a newspaper brand can beat that.
But I got into this business to improve it from the inside, so I’m sticking around.
Wish me luck.