‘Perfect World’ Replaced by the ‘Impossible’

The world is continuing to grapple with changes brought by the computer. A good example that we are concerned with is the death of local print journalism.

In the area where The Dog is distributed there was a legacy newspaper, the Booster.

After being sold to the Sun-Times community paper group, the Pioneer Press, and then to a suburban chain known as Wednesday’s Journal, there isn’t much left of the Booster, now called the Inside-Booster and no longer owned by a journalist.

Inside-Booster survives on revenue from legal ads.

But that business model is under attack. Why continue to subsidize community newspapers when the purpose of the ads, to publicize a matter of public concern, can be done more effectively and cheaper through the Internet?

The old world technology created a monopoly protecting not just community newspapers but also metros such as the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

The Internet is creating disruption that has either destroyed that monopoly or is causing it to evaporate.

This is the ‘perfect world’ that Seth Godin discusses at an advertising conference. The monopoly held by community publishers is eroding. Often the publishers are not replacing the product on the web.

And maybe that’s the right strategy. After all, as Michael Fourcher points out, ad sales are difficult. We’d amend what Fourcher has to say to note that without a market niche survival is nearly impossible.

I asked Avy Meyers about the changes in the market since he started his cable access news program North Town News Magazine in 1991.

Avy talked about how there was a healthy Pioneer competing, as well as larger metro staffs on the two daily newspapers. I’ll add that on the advertising side the Yellow Pages was a competitor.

The news and also advertising has drilled down. Although The Dog is losing one competitor, there are several new competitors in the last six months on-line.

The result of this increased competition has to be lower ad rates for local businesses.