Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not Dead Yet

Conrad Black writes:

From the late Fifties, with the rise of television, newspapers were afflicted with a flickering pessimism. By the late Sixties, after many newspapers had folded, there was little newspaper competition in most American cities. The dominant titles could still reap a handsome profit, but most were afraid to raise cover prices because of the likely negative effect on circulation, and, therefore, advertising. Newspaper cover prices were almost impervious to inflation, as publishers lacked confidence in their products. ...

The chains, like Gannett and Thomson, squeezed costs well, and, when pressed for improved editorial products, gave the inadequate editors more money, which itself merely reinforced weakness. The result was that in most markets, there were newspaper monopolies occupied by mediocre newspapers in which the corporate culture combined the arrogance of monopoly with the defeatism of a declining medium.

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