It’s the new battle cry in newsrooms across the globe. Newspapers, magazines, television stations and networks send their minions out each morning with the same marching orders: Turn that story for the next show (edition), and while you’re doing that, make sure you put it on the web, too.
If deadlines at noon, four, five, six, nine, and ten weren’t stressful enough, with Twitter, Facebook, and company websites, a journalist has a new deadline every time a new factoid drops. But has anyone ever stopped to think what this push to the web is doing to the business?
Here in the boot-shaped state, we need look no further than the Times Picayune. The Pic was New Orleans’ only daily newspaper. It’s history reaches back to before the Civil War. This week, over half the staff got pink slips. Among them, many great journalists I have had the honor of calling colleagues and friends.
It seems the beancounters in New York decided it is no longer profitable to print the damned thing more than three days a week. The culprit, the internet — ubiquitous source of free news for the masses.
Why should people buy a newspaper if they can get it for free on the web? Why should a news company print an expensive paper when it can digitize it’s message across a free internet?
In this big rush to establish a presence on the web beancounters have forgotten one thing. No one has figured out a way to make money off of internet advertising.
The pared down staff will still publish news every day. It’s just that there will be waaaaay fewer people doing in, and the good people of the Big Easy will need an LCD screen to read it.
The plight of The Pic holds a lesson for television stations across the fruited plane, if any beancounter will listen. You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Ya see, in all this rush to use Al Gore’s new technology, no one paused to figure out how to make money off the advertising on it. GM just pulled it’s ads off of Facebook because it didn’t work. And there’s not a television station or newspaper around that could survive off of what it makes from its web revenue.
The sites that do run off their ad dollars — Drudge, Hot Air, HuffPo, and the like — are nothing more than content aggregators. They have a few people buried in a basement somewhere scanning the internet for free information (the stuff other newspapers and television stations pay people to produce) then copy-and-pasting it to their own site. They are not creating content.
To create content takes lots of people. Lots of people cost lots of money. Money that papers and TV stations make from the eyes that land on their pages and their news programs.
Why should anyone watch a newscast if they can get the same thing all day long on your station’s Twitter feed? Why would anyone tune in at six to see Sweet Polly Stand-Up in front of that big train wreck if she’s been posting pics and blurbs on Facebook and Instagram since 10:30 in the morning?
What new could Mr. and Mrs. Sixpack possibly hope to gain by watching your newscast when you’ve been telling them what you’ll tell them all day?
Why are you driving people to all these platforms that make you ZERO DOLLARS and away from the programs that pay the bills?
My guess is a consultant told you to.