LA Times files Chapter 11, is Googlezon upon us?

Last year in April, I put out an open wager that one of the top 100 newspapers in America would stop printing it’s daily paper. The wager had a long horizon and the service changed hands from something called BluBet to dotblu so I lost track of it but a tweet from an old Dow Jones colleague prompted me to do a bit of research.

141 people joined me in my wager and 89% of them went along with my prediction that someone on this list would halt print operations. We were wrong on the timeline (compare 2005 & 2007 newspaper circulation figures) but The Christian Science Monitor announced in October that they would cease print operations in April 2009. Today we read that the Tribune Company, owners of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times (to name a few) is re-organizing under Chapter 11.

One under appreciated consequence to GM, Ford, or Chrysler going under is that the auto dealerships they support are a huge source of newspaper advertising revenue. My local paper has an entire section devoted to a couple of fluff reviews and many pages of automobile ads, both full-pagers for the dealerships and several pages for the classifieds. Without this subsidy, one wonders how the papers will carry on?

Is the daily paper a luxury of times past? Remember the 8-minute short, Epic 2014?  There was a quote in there, “The New York Times becomes a print-only newsletter for the elderly and elite.” That quote was a flashpoint for me when I heard this back in 2004. The line that hits me today is,

Microsoft responds to Google’s mounting challenge with Newsbotster, a social news network and participatory journalism platform. Newsbotster ranks and sorts news based on what each user’s friends and colleagues are reading and viewing, and it allows everyone to comment on what they see.

Although Facebook didn’t exist when this film was made, the Evolving Personalized Information Construct sounds a lot like Facebook Connect to me. Is this a good thing?

2 thoughts on “LA Times files Chapter 11, is Googlezon upon us?

  1. Todd Sampson

    Great stuff (as always) Ian. This post came back to me today after reading a New York Times Blog piece about new flexible displays from HP that might make ultra-portable electronic newspapers possible: <a href="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/.....t-so-much/ " target="_blank"><a href="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/extra-th…</a>" target="_blank">http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/extra-th…</a></a> I would love to get my hands on one of these.

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