I'm still very confident that the newspaper industry will not only survive but will thrive over time. In a bit of a different model, but it still will. And I think the print newspaper will thrive over time. The problems of newspapers, in my view, are very mis-covered by media analysts today. They don't understand the difference between a severe economic downturn, the most severe we've seen in my lifetime, and structural change. There are both going on. There's structural change going on, and it has been for several years, and that will change our business model. But the majority of the revenue declines we're seeing in 2009 are plain, old economic downturn.Asked about a recent memo saying MediaNews might charge for some online content, Singleton said, in part:
If we begin to wean our locally produced content off our free sites, then I think we can drive people to pay for some of that content. It's not going to be a panacea. But we can't continue to give all of our content away for free on the web and expect people to buy it in print and in E-editions. ...Given Singleton's stake in newspapers nationally, and especially here in California, the entire interview (here) well worth reading.
When we look at why people quit buying the newspaper, it's overwhelmingly because "I can get it for free online." So what we need to do is to continue having a very vibrant free site that's full of user-generated copy and information about where to eat and shows that are available and other things. But we need it not to include all of our locally produced news. And that's kind of where we're trying to go.