This Week in Saving Newspapers

by: Jeff Bercovici

NYT: David Carr thinks the only way for newspaper publishers to rescue themselves might be some good, old-fashioned, pre-Sherman Antitrust Act collusion. In his scenario, owners get together and agree to stop putting their content free on the web. Sure, it's probably illegal, he says, but "[i]t's worth remembering that the regulatory apparatus governing the industry was developed back when newspapers were the dominant local ad medium, with very little competition."

NYT: Thinking along completely different lines, the Los Angeles Daily News, a MediaNews Group paper, is about to start offering "individuated news" -- a.k.a. "I-news" -- tailored specifically to the interests of each reader. It will be delivered via a proprietary printer installed in subscribers' homes.

Ad Age: Simon Dumenco would probably not be keen on the I-news printer, judging from what he has to say about the e-reader Hearst is developing. "[M]edia executives just can't stop clinging to the concept of news as a thing -- news as a discrete product that can and should be purchased like milk or cereal or any other package good," he writes. Instead, he wants them to think of news as a service; his suggestion is a bundle of stories customized for reading on the iPhone, sold as part of a monthly phone plan.

CSM: Or, hey, newspapers could just try to squeeze some free labor out of college professors. "Suppose that 30 or 40 prominent research universities issued a joint statement, urging their faculty to publish in popular venues -- and promising to consider such articles in promotion and salary decisions," writes Jonathan Zimmerman. "Believe me, you'd see more and more professors writing for the newspaper." Of course, you'd also see more and more newspaper writers losing out on actual paychecks.