Friday, October 30, 2009

Union Leader backs off of Web

According to Now Hampshire, the Union Leader will no longer post political news and columnists on it's website. You want to read 'em, you gotta buy the paper. The Now Hampshire article is filled with wailing and whining about the unfairness of it all.
Let's see how this works out. The Union Leader has clearly decided that they only get revenue when people buy the paper. This is not rocket science. They have it right. So, they have decided to stop giving away the paper's best stuff on the web for free. If the content is that good, people will buy the paper to get it. And if it isn't that good, they won't.
And if it isn't that good? I think we know what happens then.
The business model of newspapers is straight forward, and in the absence of competition, it works. You get revenue for ad sales and paper sales. The business model for websites/blogs is unclear. Unless you are the Wall St Journal, people won't pay to read a website. Advertisers are harder to come by and don't pay as much as print ads. Websites/blogs are essentially free to operate, no bills for ink and paper, no wages to printers, delivery truck drivers and paper boys. It is doubtful that a Union Leader website could bring in enough revenue to support the reporters and editors they have now.
Dunno how this plays out in the end. Newspapers competed with radio and TV by offering more comprehensive coverage, and were readable on the commuter train. Webby competitors can be just as comprehensive, and if the WiFi ing of America works out, they will be readable on the commuter train too. Plus, who takes the train to work anymore?

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