Why newspapers are dying

Business Week’s Steve Hamm wrote A Cautionary Tale for Old Media. It offers a terrific look at why newspapers are struggling so badly with the Internet. It also holds out an odd hope that newspapers with the much-maligned two-tier ownership structure (such as the New York Times and the Washington Post) may be better positioned to survive the Internet turmoil than any others (though it didn’t much help the Wall Street Journal to have that structure).

Perhaps the best lesson from the story is that some newspapers knew what was coming, but it took the Internet too long to get there, and they just couldn’t sustain the investment. In fact, Steve’s piece could have pointed out that Knight-Ridder was involved in videotex systems in the 1980s, another investment that simply couldn’t be sustained.

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