Memo to Those Living In the Past

January 16th, 2009

I dropped my subscription to the Philadelphia Inquirer this week.

The final straw – delivery issues – came Monday; when I left to catch a train into work, the paper wasn’t at the end of my driveway. If you can’t deliver the news to me on my schedule, I ain’t paying no more.

Let me explain my morning newspaper reading habits.

About half the time, I drive into work. On those days, I usually read the Inky (and Philadelphia Daily News and New York Times and Wall Street Journal) online. I spend an early morning hour reading as much as I can.

The other half of the time, I ride the train, which affords me the luxury of reading the dead wood version of the Inquirer, which, make no mistake, is a superior experience. (I still spend time earlier on these mornings online with the other papers). When you read the paper version, you see more of the paper and get more of the news.

So, it’s not because I don’t want the news; I do want the news, and lots of it. But because I want to see a lot, it’s incumbent on the provider to make it easy for me. And at some point, you have to give up something to get something. And I’ve reached the point in this busy life where I can give up 10 percent of the Inquirer’s news for a 50 percent increase in convenience.

And that’s what the newspaper industry still hasn’t adequately addressed. They know they need to do something to make the online paper generate more revenue, but they seem to be waiting for someone else to figure it out. In last Sunday’s New York Times, David Carr begged for someone to invent “iTunes for newspapers.” This notion makes sense – it’s all about content delivery – but somebody affiliated with a newspaper needs to create a solution.

The business is in a brutal tailspin that is reaching some big newspapers across the country. The Rocky Mountain News may have been sold by the time you read this. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is hanging by a thread.

Journalists are writing about it. Publishers are worrying about it. Now, it’s time to do something about it. If you can make it easier for me (and a few million others) to consume your service, I’ll even pay for it.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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