About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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October 05, 2008


David Adams

In Kentucky, state law still mandates government posting of public notices in the form of paid advertising in newspapers. If that law -- and others like it elsewhere -- were repealed in the interest of government belt-tightening it seems that it would have an interesting impact on the industry that is worthy of consideration. I think what it would do here is decimate the smaller papers which depend very heavily on this revenue. Then the market would be flooded with experienced reporters who might then be hired at larger papers for less money than they are used to shelling out to hire a reporter. In this way, the reduced competition from small papers and lower labor costs could serve as a lifeline for bigger papers.


Mark Potts

Interesting question. I suspect the newspaper interests at the state and local level will fight this very hard, and since local publishers are often cozy with local leaders, they may be able to retain the legal advertising--which in these digital days is almost totally an anachronism, since those notices are easily posted on government Web sites.

That said, I'd argue your second point in the other direction: I think the market is now being flooded by experienced reporters from major papers doing cutbacks and layoffs, and that we'll see a lot of those folks redistributed to smaller publications.

David Adams

Thanks Mark. I'm sure you are right -- on both counts.

Some of the newspaper folks here get a little crazy when this subject comes up, but it may be that with less food to go around the table the politicians could decide to live with the idea that feeding their friends at the papers is just too expensive.



I think your headline is only partly correct, and you should have added "as We Know Them."

I don't take issue with your post, but with the comparatively small aperature of your vision. Dailies, as we know them -- as we grew up, loved and slaved at -- are disappearing. Publishing the news will not disappear.

JD Mullane

Yikes! I better get to work on my best selling novel, quick!


Christ, it's depressing - isn't it? I am studying for the NCTJ qualification in the UK and will be hunting for newspaper jobs...what a time to be in that position.

The idea of local and national newspapers, in the UK or States, dying is a very depressing thought.

J.D. Mullane

Go to India. I read that the newspaper business over there is robust. Adverstising revs up something like 30 percent in the last year.

John Welsh

I guess we always knew that disintermediation would happen. But we thought that structural reasons (readers moving online) would create the pace. What we never recognised was how cyclical reasons(the economic downturn) would soon take over and set the speed.

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