I recognize that nearly all of us are changing how and when we consume our news and entertainment. Newspapers have been keenly eyeballing consumption trends and attempting to make adjustments, but many times it’s painful to see it play out in our city.
The Washington Examiner just announced that it will cease to publish a daily edition, concentrate on its online content and evolve into a weekly magazine. In the process, it’s reported that 87 employees will lose their jobs. I empathize with them; they want to practice their craft, but their craft is quickly changing. I wish all of them the best as they pursue their next endeavor. Frankly, good news gathering and writing is difficult to come by these days, and all of us benefit from talented, unbiased journalism.
Recently Daily Variety decided to stop its daily print version after 80 years and reconfigure itself by focusing more on its weekly magazine and website. The other day I read that The Washington Post would soon start to charge some of its frequent readers for web access; it’s awkwardly referred to as placing content behind a pay wall. At this stage I guess The Post doesn’t have many options, and it must pass along some of its costs associated with journalists, editors, staff and producing content in print and online. There will be some exceptions to the pay model, but the move does signal that The Post will join other struggling newspapers in an attempt to determine how to stay in business, monetize its content and develop new revenue streams.
There are plenty of intelligent people at The Post, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will Washingtonians and readers around the world pay for pixels that likely are offered elsewhere in a similar format for free? Will The Post become more hyperlocal? Will it be able to differentiate itself enough and offer unique content that will drive reader subscriptions?
The same writers who have mocked other businesses and business models may soon have to face the reality of valuing their own writing, products and services. I wonder if some Post bloggers and writers have angst over this decision and direction and how closely daily subscription dollars will be tied to their pixels. Perhaps they too will have to find new and innovative ways to grow their business and generate dollars.
Time obviously will tell. And I think many free and widely distributed web-based media properties will attempt to take advantage of The Post’s new direction. The Post hasn’t decided how much it will charge, and I will be curious to see how its pricing will compare with a ticket to a sporting event and other entertainment options.