That vision, as we’ve said more than once, is in a hurry to jettison the American newspaper business’s most valuable traditions in favor of vague pronouncements about reader engagement and the use of social media, which are already widely adopted across the newspaper business.
The rest of the news business (with some glaring exceptions) is already moving on from free-content and quantity-driven models and is heading in a different direction: keeping print alive, while charging for online access to try to maintain quality—and vice versa. Call it the muddle-through approach. It’s not sexy but it fits a new news reality that has changed dramatically since even 2009.
It’s quite possible—likely even—that other major newspaper companies will have to restructure under bankruptcy protection to make it to the other side. But if they do, those with digital-subscription revenue streams will have a better shot of making it in the long run.
JRC is about to take a second bite at the apple, the bankruptcy court willing. Here’s hoping it can crack the code on a digital business model (perhaps with the help of subscriptions) that supports the kind of newsgathering its communities need.
In the meantime, a little humility wouldn’t hurt.