An old joke went, “Q. How do you make a million dollars in the newspaper business? A. Start with a 100 million…”
Not much has changed.
The real issue here is publishing v/s journalism. Publishing is a business and journalism is a vocation. Businessmen pursue a business to make money. Those who are drawn to a vocation will follow that calling regardless of how well it pays or whether it pays at all.
For a long while, in the analog age, this combination of business and vocation worked. For quite a while journalists were paid shit and worked long thankless hours — they were white collar workers on blue collar salaries. The news business then became the media business and journalists became media professionals. Business made astronomical amounts of money and journalists started to earn white collar salaries and some even more.
Then the Internet happened. The closed business model went bust.
News businesses now lose astronomical amounts of money and journalists are slipping back to blue collar wages at white collar jobs.
And that’s how it’s going to be.
All talk of context, content, “compelling voices and stories, real and raw talent, new ideas that actually serve or delight an audience” is just that. Talk.
The only way a business makes money is when they are able to sell something for more than what it costs to produce that thing. The “thing” can be digital or a service or a product. There also has to be a customer to buy that thing.
Newspaper companies sold newspapers to readers and advertising space to advertisers. Readers bought newspapers and advertisers paid for advertising.
Now readers don’t pay shit and advertisers pay Google and Facebook.
I’d love to see someone go and unfuck that.