The High Costs of Saving

04/04/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated May 25, 2011

"We need to get past this idea of saving," entreats Seth Godin in his blog today, which amounts to a prescriptive for many of the business world's institutional problems, including banks and brokerages, probably also automotive, and - to Seth's point - traditional media and publishing companies.

Years ago I heard someone recast the old saying that the problem with railroad companies was they failed to recognize they were in the transportation business. In fact, this speaker observed, the problem with railroad companies was that the people in them loved the railroad business. Under the circumstances, therefore, saving the railroad business became paramount.

I think about that railroad analogy almost every day, which is how often I read something new regarding attempts and desires to "save" newspapers, or magazines, or television.

Seth Godin is right, of course: as with the matter of transportation before it, when the world learned to fly, today information is more plentiful, more timely, more first-hand and, thanks to new devices, more transportable. It is boom times if you are in the information business - but not, unfortunately, if you are in the newspaper business.