Never let it be said that I don’t appreciate a good cage match.
That said, this time the melodrama inside the cage is distracting us from an opportunity for for a real and important discussion about the the future of local media.
As background, last week’s battle royale kicked off on Tuesday (6/17) with a post by Cognitive Surplus author and NYU Assistant Professor Clay Shirky. Shirky’s post, “Nostalgia and Newspapering,” was a response to the apparent collapse of Aaron Kushner’s high profile attempt to revitalize the business of newspapers, starting with The Orange County Register. Getting right to the point, Shirky said:
There’s no nice way to say this, so I might just as well get to it: Kushner’s plan was always dumb and we should celebrate its demise, not because it failed (never much in doubt) but because it distracted people with the fantasy of an easy out for dealing with the gradual end of profits from print.”
The highest profile elements of Kushner’s plan were a hard paywall around all digital content ($1 per day to read any stories on their site) and a massive investment in improving the print version of the newspaper, driven by a big increase in headcount for the newsroom.
If you still have your heart set on dialing back the clock and going back to the good old (pre-disruption) days of newspaper, [Read more…]