Posted by: Jon Fine on November 20, 2006
Today in the news we have:
—A very broad hook-up between Yahoo and over 170 newspapers, encompassing help-wanted classifieds and local news and search. These talks had been brewing for several months, as I previously discussed in this column. To an extent they still are, as other newspapers are still discussing this with Yahoo. (Note: That a very big, cross-company consortium of newspaper companies got it together to join forces with a theoretical competitor indicates the absolute terror many newspapers are feeling right now.)
—An actually interesting piece on what might become of newspapers by VHI Programming executive vice-president Michael Hirschorn for the Atlantic Monthly. One of his conclusions, perhaps unsurprisingly, is:
As portals and search engines and blogs increasingly allow readers to consume media without context or much branding, writers like Thomas Friedman will increasingly wonder what is the benefit of working for a newspaper—especially when the newspaper is burying his article behind a subscriber wall. It will require only a slight shift in the economic model for the Friedmans of the world to realize that they don’t need the newspapers they work for; that they can go off and blog on their own, or form United Artists–like cooperatives to financially support their independent efforts.
—Which leads us to today’s news that makes Hirschorn look clairvoyant: two very smart, very big-name, and very seasoned political journalists at the Washington Post—John Harris and Jim VanDehei—are splitting the Post to hook on with “a new political Web site.”
The last bit of behavior, it’s true, surfaced semi-regularly in 1999 and 2000, and almost without exception ended in tears. (I’m still pining for the big food Web play that NYT food writer Molly O’Neill left the paper to run. And who could forget CNN’s Lou Dobbs brief bit as CEO of space.com?)
There is a big difference today, of course. There are actual revenue models to wrap around such ventures.