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If papers stopped dumping their print products online they might just find a real business model

Newspapers have to stop treating the web as a dumping ground for their printed product.

Newspapers have to stop treating the web as a dumping ground for their printed product.

(Cross posted from ShiftLock, my tech column in the CNA paper, The Publisher)

How much are  you spending on your online news site?
Whatever the number – $50,000 or $5,000,000 – think of that number for a second and then answer this question: if someone gave you (insert your big fat number here) to launch and run a brand new, innovative online news website to serve your community, would you really have chosen something so cluttered, confused, ugly and stuffed with yesterday’s news?
I doubt it.
But despite more than a decade of trying, most of us are locked into our old print habits, like  “owning” our content, or believing we’re the experts, that people want to listen to us — rather than talk with us and each other. These habits are killing us.
While newspapers were early explorers on the web, we frittered away our lead in a foolish attempt to reproduce, not just our newspapers, but our old business model. We wasted more than a decade trying to get people to pay for content in a world where the digital explosion meant that the value of raw information was rapidly approaching zero, and the supply of advertising was expanding so rapidly its cost was dropping just as fast. All those years spent arguing whether we should charge for our newspaper content were wasted — because we were asking the wrong question.
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