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Newspapers Are In Decline, Yes, But Far From Dead

TheNew Yorker's James Surowiecki, who writes the “Financial Page” column, takes on the beleaguered newspaper industry this week.  He offers no new information, nor barely any fresh thoughts.  But still, because he's Surowiecki and scribbles for the most venerated of America's weeklies, his take is worth reading.  What he points out is that newspapers are indeed in a slow decline, which is why their stocks have tumbled--even though most continue to make impressive profits year in and year out. Wall Street, however, instinctively bets against industries that are thought to represent the past. That very fact alone ought to suggest plenty of upside for newspapers, which need to adapt a contrarian approach to their future, says Surowiecki: "It’s clear that this moment of supposed doom represents a sizable opportunity for newspapers, a chance to reinvigorate their product and, eventually, improve the economics of their business. Seizing that opportunity is going to require new investment, not penny-pinching. Established media--radio, the movies, television--haven’t vanished when new forms have come along. They’ve adapted by playing to their distinctive strengths. (For most newspapers, this will mean abandoning things that are ubiquitous on the Internet, like stock tables and wire stories, and investing in content they can own, like serious local coverage and in-depth reporting.)" Another point The New Yorker writer makes: while newspapers and their brands are losing readers, they are at the same time gaining influence. They must better leverage their influence, he asserts, in order to shore up their business in the years ahead.





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