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James Boyce

James Boyce

Posted: May 7, 2007 10:17 AM

The Dam Breaks: Quick Notes From A New Media World


I have been tracking the demise of the newspaper/traditional media world for almost two years now here on The Huffington Post, along with the impact on the political world. This past weekend, I saw three more examples of just how much, and just how fast, the world is changing.

The Boston Globe has traditionally been a strong city paper; The Gloucester Daily Times is one of those small town newspapers that used to be so critical in getting news to Americans. Both are in the midst of serious and substantial subscription declines -- so much so, that they are each trying to buy back customers.

The Boston Globe is offering anyone who buys a 6 month subscription, for $104 I might add, seems like a lot to me too, a $40 gift card. The Gloucester Daily Times was offering a $30 gift card to people who subscribed. These numbers simply don't work from a financial point of view. (Fellow HuffPost contributor Jeffrey Feldman joined Nate Wilcox and I on "Heading Left" on Friday and this was one of the discussion points.)

Despite incentives like this, newspaper circulation continues its quickening descent. Every six months, there are major city newspapers posting significant declines.

Since March 2005, these declines have been 2%-3% per year. With declining readership comes declining ad revenues, which are followed by layoffs.

The newspapers are gone forever.

Journalists from newspapers, used to editorial staffs, major salaries, and support structures, have consistently proven unable to adapt to the new media, with its pace, its own ethos and culture and its differing point of view of journalism.

One prominent columnist I knew, used to writing a massive one column a week for her $200,000+ annual salary, told me she simply didn't have time to blog or write anything online. She's retired now.

As the declines accelerate in newspaper, there is the opposite thing happening online. Not only has YouTube announced it will start paying for content, I have heard of three bloggers getting deals to blog once a week. Tiny salaries by newspaper standards but major salaries from a blogging point of view.

I believe that good content will get paid for -- no matter where it comes from. This is the marketplace in action. As we see major newspapers fail, we will see more and more web sites rise up. Advertisers will continue to shift money online from off -- and the new era of journalism will continue to grow.

Finally, I saw more numbers from the 2008 campaigns. The lesson of the campaign will be a dramatic shift on how people raise money and run campaigns. Television and newspaper advertising and direct mail will not be effective in the 2008 campaign like they used to be. The tens of millions of dollars raised will go, essentially, for naught.

Someone will spend $75 million plus and not sniff the nomination. It's Caveat Donor right now, but the major donors don't see the writing on the wall yet.

Three predictions:

A major city newspaper will fail or fold in the next twelve months.

The price will rise for good content -- no matter where it's from.

The 2008 candidate who invests in talent and new media not television, wins.

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