Regular readers know that newspapers’ declining readership is a favourite subject of mine. Via Slashdot, the New York Times has a thoughtful article on the dead-tree media’s ongoing struggle to generate sufficient revenue online (registration required, thanks to Richard for the non-decaying link):
“For some publishers, it really sticks in the craw that they are giving away their content for free,” said Colby Atwood, vice president of Borrell Associates Inc., a media research firm. The giveaway means less support for expensive news-gathering operations and the potential erosion of advertising revenue from the print side, which is much more profitable.
It’s a pretty good article, but there are two discussion points conspicuous by their absence. First, any article about declining newspaper readership should, if only in passing, mention demographics. Pure and simple, the newspapers’ readership is aging and dying off.
Second, the journalist (one Katharine Q Seelye) glosses over the fact that the NYT’s archives aren’t online. In fact, the article is utterly devoid of analysis of current news vs. archives. I think that’s a pretty important consideration, but Seelye doesn’t give it the column inches (or, heck, inch) it deserves.