Make It Stop

The willful denial of reality burns us, precious:

Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials
without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or
paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s
consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by
online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly
news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the
Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental
sources of news and opinion.

The Romenesko commenters have at him:

And one way to reduce CO2 emissions…
Posted by
Thomas Lilleston
6/29/2009 12:17:14 PM

…is to stop breathing, and that’ll probably work about as well as the No-Link Theory.

However, the dumbest part of the piece isn’t actually the one about which most people are doing the bitching:

Newspaper ad revenues fell by almost 8 percent in 2007, a surprising
drop in a non-recession year (the current economic downturn began in
the late fall of that year), and by almost 23 percent the following
year, and accelerated this year. In the first quarter of 2009 newspaper
ad revenues fell 30 percent from their level in the first quarter of
2008. This fall in revenue, amplified by drops in print circulation
(about 5 percent last year, and running at 7 percent this year–and
readership is declining in all age groups, not just the young), have
precipitated bankruptcies of major newspaper companies and, more
important, the disappearance of a number of newspapers, including major
ones, such as theRocky Mountain News and theSeattle Post-Intelligencer.
Falling revenues have led to layoffs of some 20,000 employees of the
remaining newspapers. Print journalism has come to be regarded as a
dying profession. Online viewership and revenues have grown but not
nearly enough to offset the decline in ad revenues. Even the most
prestigious newspapers, such as theNew York Times, theWall Street Journal, theWashington Post, andUSA Today, have experienced staggering losses.

You know what someone writing one of these interminableoh God oh God we’re all gonna die pieces has yet to tell me? If “less money than we had before” and “not enough money to live on” are the same damn thing. Every time I ask this question I get people telling me I’m oversimplifying the situation and that’s exactly my point. I am oversimplifying the situation. I’m doing it on purpose. Is there enough money in any given big-city newspaper today to fund the newsgathering operations we are told are so critical to the survival of life as we know it?

My educated guess based on reading I kid you not everything on the planet about this for the past five years ishell yeah, and there’d be plenty left over, too. And if that’s the case, then this is no longer an advertising crisis or a free vs. paid content crisis or ayou kids suck crisis. Then this is a WHERE THE HELL IS ALL THE MONEY crisis, and I think we might need to hold another congressional hearing and instead of letting David Simon bitch about HuffPo, we could subpoena Dennis FitzSimons.

div class=”blockquote” style=”margin-left: 40px;”>News, as well the other information found in newspapers, is
available online for nothing, including at the websites of the
newspapers themselves, who thus are giving away content. The fact that
online viewing is rising as print circulation is falling indicates a
shift of consumers from the paid to the free medium.

Not necessarily. It could also be that through nefarious means, like LINKS, people are finding your content and thus your numbers are increasing.


3 thoughts on “Make It Stop

  1. Dan says:

    I may have just had a revelation. Consider:
    1. There is money to be made in the newspaper biz. The profit margins are still fine. Going forward there will be less money, but overall it’s still profitable.
    2. The people in charge of most of the current newspapers are irrepressible greedheads and fuckups.
    3. Nature abhors a vacuum.
    After the Sam Zells of the world kill their existing papers the money to be made from them will still be floating around out there waiting for someone to step in and take it. It could be a stripped down, electronic version of current newsrooms – something that just reports on local events and doesn’t bother with syndicated content from around the world – or something else. It could be run by slightly less clueless vesions of the existing morons, some kind of journalistic cooperative, a nonprofit concern, or something else again. It might have the same blinkered editorial vision that is currently killing the Washington Post (to name just one) or it might take a more adversarial stance towards those in power. I don’t know the details. But the revelation is this – the continuing profitability of the newspaper industryeven in the current climate guarantees that the industry will survive. Long term, we don’t need to worry about the fates of individual papers. Even if they go under the money to be made means there will be something to take its place. That won’t be any solace to the people who get laid off while this transformation occurs, but I’m no longer too worried about big names going under.

  2. Athenae says:

    Dan, I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago at the UW Journalism School lecture I wrote about. Somebody was talking about having to figure out how, just how on earth, to “monetize” news content. And I said, “You mean like printing it on paper and delivering it for a reasonable price and selling advertising around it? Because it seems to me that’s working really well, except in case you’re a CEO and wanted a big fat bonus this year.”
    I wonder if we need some kind of national ad campaign along the lines of THERE IS NO CRISIS with Social Security. THERE IS NO CRISIS, there is a bunch of rich assholes using a pretend crisis to screw over hardworking journalists who have no recourse at all.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    As a librarian, copyright is near and dear to my heart. Patents and copyright are there to promote the interchange of ideas.
    If you get an active community discussing something of substance, you’ll get followers and subscriptions will go up.
    If you don’t add anything of value, why should I subscribe (or even if you’re free, why should I follow you?)

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