About Me

  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 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. You can read more about me here.

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« San Francisco Goes First | Main | Not Funny At All »

February 25, 2009


David Israels

Of all the many critiques I've read about the Chron's coming demise, yours is the smartest and most on target.

Good work.


Cynthia McCune

And to think ... it was just a few short months ago that the Chronicle announced it had signed a 15-year contract on a new state-of-the-art printing plant.

At the time, I remember thinking the Chron's focus on printing plants was misplaced, an prime example of looking backwards instead of looking forward. Now I think it explains a lot.

Mark Potts

Cynthia: Actually, the Chronicle's printing plant deal is one of the smarter things it did. It didn't buy a new plant--it rented one. In fact, better than that, the paper cut a deal to outsource its printing to a Canadian company that's building a new, non-union plant in the Bay Area. There's some speculation that the Chronicle is now trying to modify that deal, but nonetheless, it was a good move: Rather than investing in expensive printing capacity (and attendant labor contracts and costs), the Chronicle got somebody else to do it--and is then going to lease the printing plant. Very smart.

You can read more about the Chronicle's printing deal here:

Marc Matteo

This is exactly what I was talking about here: http://www.lectroid.net/2009/02/10/newspapers-could-actually-try-online/

SFGate is just another struggling "newspaper web site" when it should have been a "news web site".

Beth Lawton, Newspaper Assoc. of America

The Newspaper Association of America is tackling this very topic at our mediaXchange conference in March. The session ("Better, Faster, More Profitable!") is Wednesday, March 11 in the morning with Bill Ostendorf, Sean Ammirati and Kelly Dyer Fry. (More info at mediaxchange.naa.org.)


Thoroughly enjoyed reading this smart and provocative article. Seems to be telling of the industry over all, and somewhat unnerving for those of us studying journalism, although it demonstrates some of the areas that young journalists should be looking into.

Thanks for posting.


Mark: Spot on. Now that we are seeing the wave of pay-content wall ideas, the shortcomings of the "newspaper" sites are surfacing. Your review of SFGate -- what it is and isn't -- should be a primer and a gut-check. Yesterday, I posted on Newsday's potential pay plans and heard from a Newsday reporter with similar take on that woeful site. Ken


Richard Complainary

The problem with the Chronicle is reporting; they don't. They reprint news from the news networks and from PR talking points handed out locally.
They don't do the digging to develop news stories of their own.
The result is another boring newspaper.
Richard Complainary, Publisher

Rocky Agrawal

I think a big, big problem that very few people have touched on in analysis of the shortcomings of online news sites is their compensation structures.

The companies that you refer to Google, Yelp and others earlier (AOL, Yahoo!) incent employees in ways that they get rewarded for taking risks.

Newspapers haven't done that in the Web era. If anything, the people who toe the line are more likely to be rewarded than those that take risks and try new things.

The best and brightest wouldn't work at SFGate. You get the frustration of working for backward focused management for a smaller salary and no equity upside.

Even the feeble attempts by the newspaper industry like NCN and CV didn't offer meaningful equity rewards for employees.

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