Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 predictions - #1

I could spout off about a hundred predictions for the upcoming year but instead I'll slowly throw them in to the mix here from time to time. Maybe even before the year is up.

My first prediction has to do with the media landscape. Being from Minnesota and, more specifically the Twin Cities, my first peek in to my crystal ball has to do with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

If you're unfamiliar with this newspaper, they are the largest daily in Minnesota but have been missing debt payments and just announced that they are axing their B section for the month of January as an "experiment". My guess here is that while people will notice and, yes, even complain about the combination of the main news and metro sections but the investment group owners won't react outside of axing still more content in print.

This loss of content translates to a loss of pages and, in turn, leaves behind less value and less of a reason for the increasingly financially pinched average Joe to throw down 50 cents for a smaller paper.

Thus begins the slippery slope leading to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune that nobody will recognize or one that won't even exist.

What little money I have is on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune becoming web-only with a bare bones staff of full-time employees who will write and edit the content, shoot and edit video content and shoot their own photos. A small, free Sunday-only printed piece will still exist on racks as a vehicle for delivering those stacks of printed inserts because that is all that's left that still makes money. While this would leave behind the paper's hundreds of thousands of subscribers, the investment company currently running the newspaper doesn't care because if it lines their pockets, it's good business.

Another scenario leaves the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to be swallowed up by the neighboring St. Paul Pioneer Press. Five years ago I would have punched myself for thinking something so ludicrious could ever happen. Maybe now, though, it's time for this to happen as it would leave the stronger weekly papers whose business models are more nimble to succeed and grab more advertising dollars and actually add subscribers - something the trudging behemoths have almost certainly failed at.

Less doom and gloom exists at the safe-haven known as MinnPics. Check out the stunning photography from Minnesota's finest Flickr-using photographers.

6 comments:

Brian in Mpls said...

I think you are probably dead on with this...

Jacki said...

Our own Washington Post is having revenue difficulties. I think newspapers are out of touch with the times. Not many people have the time or desire to sit and read a newspaper, but instead will hop online and get there news from newsfeeds.

i am playing outside said...

good luck, newspaper! this same thing happened in my hometown once, although a town of 8,500 doesn't exactly need rival newspapers HAH

Sornie said...

I think that the real problem is that the web created a culture where peopl pay a flat fee for access and expect everything, once they are online, to be free. If newspapers provide something extraordinary in print then they could survive but the current business model won't fly.

Crazy Lady said...

I have to say - I am one of those people who would prefer to read my news online than in print!

buffalodick said...

It's happening to a lot of newspapers. People can get news on the Internet days before it's published in the local press. We went from daily to just week-end press to save money. It's just another logical progression, like from mail, to fax machines, to E-mails...