Debra J. Sanders of the dieing San Francisco Chronicle recently wrote an inane column about why the death of newspapers will be the death of us all.
And I quote:
Blah, blah, blah. You need us (newspaper people, who only write for print) to keep democracy going. Blah, blah, blah we made the mistake of giving away news on the Web. Blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah, people have to pay for news. Blah, blah, blah, you all should be ashamed of the fact that you no longer subscribe to newspapers. Blah, blah, blah.
You want to know why the Chronicle is losing boatloads of money? Because they waste money on columns like this!
Now to debunk the utter crap like Sanders wrote. First, newspapers make money off of ads, not subscriptions and newsstand sales. Get that straight.
I pay less than $0.50 per Sunday issue of The Washington Post. It is delivered to my apartment. Do you really think that huge newspapers, complete with Sunday magazines, delivered to me with record gas prices really cost less than $0.50? Are you out of your mind?
It’s the ads within that make money. And the real problem is that most newspaper ad and business staffs don’t know how to sell ads online. They completely and utterly suck at that part of their jobs.
And why should they be good at selling ads online? Most ad reps are paid heavily by commission. And what ads bring the biggest commission? Huge, national print ads!
What kinds of ads don’t work so well on Web sites? Huge, national banner ads! What kinds of ads have been the back bone of newspapers for years? Classifieds!
And what have newspapers really, really sucked at on the Web? Making quality classified ad systems for the Web. This isn’t rocket science.
Craigslist came about because newspapers willfully neglected classified advertising on the Web. Remember that.
You know why most newspapers are getting crushed on the Web? You really want to know why? Because most employees at newspapers — especially business employees — just don’t get it. They don’t get it.
And you know what? They aren’t going to get it. It’s not going to happen.
The newspaper business needs fresh ideas. It needs people who are willing to take risks and think outside of the box. Writing columns like Sanders does that blame readers for the fall of newspapers is the worst possible use of our time and resources.
If I was the publisher of the Chronicle, my first money-saving order of business would be to fire one Debra J. Sanders.