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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Atlantic on Reinventing Newspapers 

The current issue of The Atlantic Monthly features Michael Hirschorn's meditation on the reinvention of newspapers in the digital age. While there's nothing particularly new in Hirschorn's analysis, his argument is compellingly written.

In particular, I liked his use of the term "sell-side logic" to describe the vested interests of "old media" purveyors:

This would seem like the moment to get on my high horse and defend the daily newspaper, with its omnibus approach to everything from your town to the world, its high/low pastiche, its editorial ordering function that allows readers to weigh and sort multitudinous news inputs into a coherent worldview. But this is what I would call, to borrow a Wall Street term, sell-side logic. It flatters the people who have a vested interest in preserving the gatekeeper function and the economic margins provided by dead-tree media, or who see news­papers as a cultural bulwark against the barbarians. The barbarians, on the other hand, don’t seem to care; they’d rather get the news they want, not the news the mandarins say is good for them.

Hirschorn's argument is detailed, but his proposed reinvention for newspapers comes down to this:

What if you essentially exploded the central function of the newspaper and “microchunked” (to borrow a current term) the content, syndicating all of it to bloggers or other news sites in return for a share of any advertising revenue each site generates?

I think a similar option exists for strong b2b editorial brands.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Private Equity and Old Media 

Noted, from the New York Times:

“The more people disparage ‘old media,’ the happier I am,” said Robert Berner, managing director of Ripplewood. “These companies don’t require a lot of capital investment. They sell subscriptions, so you get the money upfront and deliver the product over time. They generate a lot of cash, so they make great buyout candidates, and you can get them at reasonable prices, because everyone else is focused on buying shares of Google.”

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