The Death of (Most) Newspapers by 2020

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So I checked out the fantastic Romemesko blog today--the place where all the journalism geeks go to get their media-news fix.

And what I found was depressing. Among today's postings, the headlines included:

Mercury News editor asks staff to stay focused on journalism (amidst job-cut rumors)

Blade: Our staff had to swallow hard and accept pay cuts

Meanwhile, rumors are running rampant that the Star's asking reporters to work fewer hours; the San Francisco Chronicle is hacking its staff; etc., etc.

Most of these cuts (although not necessarily all of them) are typical of the dumb-ass greed of today's newspaper companies. It happens all the time: A newspaper has an off quarter or year, profits-wise (they're still profitable, mind you, just not AS profitable as shareholders or management wants); they respond by cutting staff/resources to keep profits high; the paper's quality invariably suffers; readers/advertisers notice this and stop reading/buying ads; a newspaper has an off quarter or year, profits-wise; repeat cycle.

This is slightly oversimplifying, yes, but the fact is that GREED--not Craigslist or the Internet or these young whippersnappers today who have short attention spans--will kill off most newspapers as we know them by 2020.

It's sad. I just hope newspaper shareholders and owners get their heads out of their asses and realize that innovation and reinvestment, not insane budget cuts, are the keys to the future. I am not optimistic.

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