Creative Destruction in Newspapers

Hardly a day goes by without a stark reminder of the the newspaper industry’s malaise. Today, to pick just one example, the Los Angeles Times announced it will no longer print a separate book review section on Sundays.

Predictably, the journalistic community responded with dismay. We’ve seen this movie before. Several past LAT book editors wrote a letter of protest in which they claimed this decision is a "blunder" which will lead to more readers canceling their subscriptions and that eliminating a stand-alone book review section is an "insult" to "cultural ambitions of the city."

Don’t these people get it? Newspapers are dying. Content is being unbundled. Cultural ambitions of cities are no longer channeled by the local newspaper. The world is changing. Yet, a considerable number of executives in this industry (and newspaper readers over age 60 in general) believe that newspapers in their current form must be saved — including a book review section alongside city crime alongside reporting from Iraq alongside Lakers and Dodgers news. Not so.

No one questions the societal need for high quality journalism. But — and this is key — there is no inextricable link between high quality journalism and a print newspaper covering a million topics.

My popular belief on all this is that the most promising category is "hyperlocal" news / analysis / coverage. My unpopular belief is that print still has a future in a big way, just not for metro daily newspapers.

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine is the most intelligent blogger on reinventing journalism. I read him daily.


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2 comments on “Creative Destruction in Newspapers
  • Ben,
    I work in an Italian publishing house. We are facing the same problems with the industry’s current situation. Moreover the pace of innovation here is even slower.

    What I see is that executives want to keep the status quo because they believe any major change would kill journalism.

    Executives here are having the opportunity to do something new and different but they don’t seem to understand it. Maybe that’s because they see the situation as “printed vs. Internet” seeing Internet as whole monolytic tool, not understanding that you can make different (good) uses out of it.

    Of course I am also a reader of J.Jarvis. Buzzmachine should be read by every executive in this industry.

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