Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stop the presses?

Posted by Craig on 10/02/2008
Director of Social Media at the St. Louis Dispatch Kurt Greenbaum offered some really interesting thoughts in a recent blog entry. Among them: do we really need to print a newspaper anymore?

Think about it, he says. All this talk lately about the need for a new business model - how about an online-only one? Cut the Circulation Department. Cut a good chunk of Advertising. Cut a fraction of News/Editorial and go digital only.

No ink costs, printing costs - no need to own printing presses anymore either.

But then he took a real close look at it, and detracted those same thoughts, saying they wouldn't work - at least in his estimation.

He used various numbers he collected on the Web and came out with a 15 percent profit margin currently for the average newspaper - about $51 million revenue, about $43 million expenses. The new model? Even minus those expenses listed above, your standard newspaper would be 9 percent in the red. Not enough online revenue yet.

Perhaps his ideas could be tweaked and looked at further though.

2 comments on "Stop the presses?"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nod to my blog item. I was pretty optimistic I could make it work. And maybe it still could. There's a few comments on that entry that suggest I underestimated online revenue because, without the print product, some advertisers would up their online spending.

There's a whole lot of broad assumptions in that post, so I would welcome feedback that helps to make or break the concept.

Craig on October 2, 2008 at 11:39 PM said...

Kurt, I just read those comments on your entry. They're extremely interesting. That's a good point about online revenue going up with print advertisers shifting to the Web.

The only real feedback I personally can offer is this, based on my past experience: the current business model for newspapers, as you know, just isn't working, and a new model is needed. I left working for a newspaper to pursue a grad degree that focuses on online and new media and diversify my skills in this ever-changing landscape. I'm interning at a nonprofit, online-only newspaper now ( That model is better, but it still isn't perfect. As a young person, I don't see how online CAN'T be the future and the sooner newspapers adjust for that, the better. My generation is the generation of the computer.

Your suggested model is the closest I've seen to a viable one; I hope it can be developed, passed on to the appropriate people, and worked out. I think it's critical newspapers survive and adjustments are needed.


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