The Business of Journalism is?
President Calvin Coolidge famously uttered — ‘’the business of America is business.’’ One reason Coolidge’s famous quote is so famous is that he said it and over a decade of economic turmoil (a.k.a. the Great Depression) followed, in short order.
As recently as the late 1990s, newspaper company profits were 20% or better. Advertisers gladly shelled out big dollars for Sunday paper inserts and ROP ads. The business of journalism was business. But in 2016, it’s largely the inserts that are keeping many papers afloat (albeit with razor thin margins.) Classified ad revenue has fled to digital sites. Local advertisers are more risk averse and prefer local search and social media. National advertisers have lost faith in print as daily circulations have plummeted.
We still need journalism and there is a larger than ever audience for good journalism but the advertisers are not willing to subsidize it anymore (and not enough of the audience is willing to pay for it either.) At this moment, when we need a healthy news media as much as ever, a ‘’journalism business model’’ is nearly a contradiction in terms.
The big question seems to be, do enough people care?
Here’s an article from Nieman Lab about the state of the news business, failures of the media this election and the phenomena of ‘’fake news’’ on Facebook and social media sites: