Gawker to Newspapers: Do Less with Less

You could read the Financial Times’ 2,700-word analysis on what’s wrong with the U.S. newspaper industry and how it could be fixed, or you could read Gawker’s 187-word suggestion on how newspapers should confront their changing business, which makes just as much sense!

Here it is — a cogent, sincere response to this “doing more with less” mantra that will be the death blow to many more newspapers before all this over with:

Less is cheaper. Which gives the enterprise an actual chance of success, possibly! Instead of clinging to its old model unto death, a newspaper could ask itself: How much of this crap in our paper do we actually need? How many papers need a food section or a fashion section? None, really, if they don’t bring in ad money. The Seattle P-I is focusing on what it needs: Seattle news and commentarianism. Local papers could cut back to covering local governments, sports, and crime. The number of US papers that can truly justify publishing a book review, or a weekly magazine, or extensive movie coverage can be counted on fewer than one hand’s worth of fingers.

Oh, you like those sections? So do we. Unfortunately they cost too much so you can’t have them any more. Or you can, and they will bankrupt the paper, which spreads its dwindling editorial resources thinner and thinner until the entire product is just one big lump of suck. Which has already happened, in many places! So do less. Spend less. And stop lying about it.

Now is the time for newspapers to determine 1) what it is their audiences want from them, 2) what they cover exceptionally well, and 3) what they do just because that’s what they’ve always done.

Then they should concentrate on Nos. 1 and 2, and abandon No. 3.


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