Newspapers Should Stick to Fucking Just That Chicken

And not six other chickens, plus a goat, Farmer Bill, the mail carrier, and a seagull that got lost and wound up on top of the barn:

Newspaper advertising remains the most efficient means of reaching a local audience, so why has this industry ceded so much ground?

Today, digital revenue makes up around 10 percent of the industry’s total, yet most newspaper CEOs would say that their core strategic initiatives are to find new digital revenue streams and to reduce the impact of print on their businesses. Why not focus on 90 percent of the pie and stem the declines — or even make the pie grow bigger?

Because if you say things like “digital revenue streams” you sound smart and with-it and today, as opposed to saying things like, “we should continue to not suck at what we already don’t suck at and stop flailing around chasing trend after trend after trend and pissing off the customers we do have.” That’s old-fashioned, naive, and just basically silly, doing something just because you’re good at it and people like it and it works.

I was talking with some friends over the weekend about the “hyperlocal” trend and how it seems to be hmm not showing immediate massive dividends after being around for ten minutes, and we agreed that local coverage of any kind is an investment. You can’t just cover a village board meeting and BOOM PROFIT. You have to cover 50 of them, and then maybe something marginally interesting happens, but in the meantime your editor is sitting there tapping his desk going, “So are you going to produce anything here or what because I really don’t care about the fifth rewrite of the sign ordinance.” That’s hard to explain to an audience at a conference, much less a boardroom full of shareholders.

There are a few things in this piece, which has been making the rounds, that I disagree with:

I don’t know many industries that can survive pricing their core product at free. In fact, I’m less surprised at how many subscribers the newspaper industry has lost since this decision than by how many subscribers still remain, knowing that they pay for content that others get for free.

Free newspapers exist and always have, first of all. I wish people writing about “giving away content” would remember that. And nobody sells content to subscribers. They deliver content to subscribers in order to sell those subscribers’ eyeballs to advertisers. If we were discussing purely subscription-supported, ad-free content here, I would grant the point, but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about traditional newspapers and subscription revenue has never entirely supported them.

This is a fundamental mistake that leads to 90 percent of the unholy bitching about customers that turns customers right the hell off. Complaining about the Internet in 20FUCKING13 just marks you as Grandma and Grandpa, and when you’re already out there trying to be hip with the young’uns that’s the last thing you want.Also, too, numbers:

Newspaper media continue to have a utilitarian function for millennials, as they do for other age groups, when it comes to shopping habits. The recent “How America Shops and Spends” study conducted for NAA by Magid shows that 68% of those ages 18-24, and 75% of those ages 25-34, acted in some way on print newspaper advertising in the past month. Whether they visit a store, clip a coupon, become aware of a sale or go to a website to find more information, millennials act when exposed to newspaper ads in print.

But that just means you have to work hard to do what you’ve always done, as opposed to sitting back, turning on your magical Internet money faucet, and waiting for the cash to come out.

A.

3 thoughts on “Newspapers Should Stick to Fucking Just That Chicken

  1. adrastos says:

    Gambit Weekly in NOLA is a good example of a “free paper” that has done very well over the years. It’s one of the best places to buy ad space in town. Plus, its editor is one of our regular readers…

  2. MapleStreet says:

    For accuracy, the scene I’m talking about was in the context of a broader storyline. The speech wasn’t the end of the episode.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    As Adrastos posted the “Blame Canada” song, I’ll go ahead and say that there was an episode where South Park hit the nail square on the head about internet money.
    From memory, Canada had gone on strike and the kids tried to launch an viral video hit to make money to send to Canada. Eventually they were in a waiting room with laughing baby, Chocolate Rain, staring gopher, and other internet hits. All the characters were bragging about being worth a gazillion internet dollars.
    At the end they found out that this was worth nada in real money. One of the kids gave a speech on how the internet hadn’t matured enough as a medium of commerce.

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