Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Could newspapers have survived the Web?

The man who killed newspapers is supposed to be Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, the Internet publication that has at the very least helped dismantle the newspaper classifieds business.

Newmark, though, typically denies Craigslist pushed newspapers to the brink of extinction, which is where they most certainly appear to be today. Newmark will tick off plenty of factors that contributed to the fall, not least of which was "they refused to speak truth to power."

That may or may not be true, but it's hard to miss how badly newspapers misplayed the Internet and a lot has been written lately about that. Seth Godin, a noted pundit, author, and the founder of Yoyodyne, has an interesting point of view on the travails of The New York Times. He argues that a decade ago, the Times failed to recognize the huge opportunity of using the Web to extend its brand.

He said among the ways the Times blew it was by not buying or creating competitors to Zagats or Yelp. "That's a quarter of a billion dollars worth of value that the paper with the most influential restaurant reviews page didn't create," he said.


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