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Thursday, March 03, 2016

The business of convergence

The Guardian is in the process of learning the hard way that employing SJWs and marketing to them is a very good way to lose considerable sums of money:
As much as any newspaper in the world, Britain’s Guardian has been single-minded and aggressive in its belief that conversion to digital distribution and a digital identity was its future and, for that matter, the only future for any newspaper.

The costs of that conviction are now clear: The paper lost almost $120 million last year.

The Guardian has been something of an ultimate experiment in the migration from paper to digital publishing. The enterprise is supported by a trust set up in the 1930s by the Guardian’s founders, the Scott family from Manchester, wholly dedicated to the survival of the paper. While the trust envisioned providing the paper freedom from commercial pressure to let it practice unfettered journalism, the transition to digital is, in the estimation of the Guardian’s managers, the only path to journalism’s future — and a necessary cost, whatever it amounts to.  (Disclosure: I’m a former contributor to the Guardian.)

In order to underwrite the costs of this transformation, most of the trust’s income-producing investments have been liquidated in recent years in order to keep cash on hand — more than a billion dollars.
Translation: they should be tapped out and done in about 15 years.

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50 Comments:

OpenID basementhomebrewer March 03, 2016 12:07 PM  

Notice there is no admission that content could be the problem. It must be that the digital medium is the issue.

Anonymous WinstonWebb March 03, 2016 12:10 PM  

The only logical solution is gov't subsidies.
Because reasons.

Blogger James Dixon March 03, 2016 12:15 PM  

The "costs of converting to digital" should have been minimal and easily covered out of the profits from their print business. But that was when they had a print business. Print newspaper circulation has been dying for a long time now, and from an outsider perspective the process seems to be accelerating.

Add to that the fact that most non-newspaper readers trust the newspapers "digital identity" as far as they could throw the corporate headquarters, and they have a problem.

Their old market is dying, they waited too long to begin supplying the new market, and the consumers in the new market consider them toxic and untrustworthy. Unless they can completely remake themselves into something consumers will trust or find a whole new market, I don't seem them or the other major newspapers surviving.

OpenID denektenorsk March 03, 2016 12:17 PM  

Liquidating the trust that sees them through hard times seems incredibly short sighted. There should have been clauses to prevent that. Ah well, if it means the Guardian goes under so much the better. How are the other UK papers doing (e.g. The Telegraph)?

Anonymous tublecane March 03, 2016 12:18 PM  

I think the future of newspapers is subsidy by entities that use them for purposes other than profit.

Anonymous Broken Arrow March 03, 2016 12:23 PM  

The solution is a SJW committee which vets each article written to make sure meets certain unpublished criteria and for the safety of the committee it must be made up of unknown members who can act arbitrarily with all decisions made in secret. This is the path to profitability and I offer this advice free of charge for the future of the Guardian.

Blogger CarpeOro March 03, 2016 12:28 PM  

Perhaps there aren't enough safe spaces there? Once they have created some more and stopped hurtful-microaggrssing speech I am sure things will turn around. All the other rabbits safe in their burrows will feel safe enough to read the Guardian again.

OpenID b1bae96e-6447-11e3-b6bb-000f20980440 March 03, 2016 12:29 PM  

Do SJW have any money? I mean I know some of them do but most of them don't. And I find the amount of moral status signally to be directly related to how cheap a person is.

Seems like a bad business plan to court people that don't have money, and are stingy with what they have.

WillBest

Blogger Gaiseric March 03, 2016 12:31 PM  

You get this same kind of nonsense in analysis of Hollywood failures: complete inability to suggest that maybe the content isn't appealing to its customers.

If Breitbart can be a successful digital newspaper, then why not The Guardian?

Blogger RobertT March 03, 2016 12:32 PM  

Sooner than that. Money never lasts as long as it's supposed to.

Blogger RobertT March 03, 2016 12:32 PM  

Sooner than that. Money never lasts as long as it's supposed to.

Anonymous Culture Heretic March 03, 2016 12:37 PM  

In case anybody forgot.

Breitbart: Guardian closes comments

Blogger Ahazuerus March 03, 2016 12:38 PM  

@James Dicon

You might be missing cause and effect. The orint media are bleeding cash all over BECAUSE nobody trusts them any more.

Even their core diehard subscribers KNOW they are full of shit. But those people buy them for the emotional comfort of seeing their own delusions repeated back to them in soothing tones, not for hard truths.

The Guardian, self-styled liberals, are the most censorious school-marmish harridans in Britain. They make the beeb look positively Lockean - no mean feat.

They're losing money because only a very small percentage of Britons will pony up their hard earned cash to be constantly harangued with the idiocy that all the ills of the world are due to the fact that white Britons still HAVE any hard earned cash.

Blogger RobertT March 03, 2016 12:40 PM  

I was invited to write a blot post for Upwork. They said they were trying make it the go to pub for small business owners. So I took a look and it was wall to wall SJW. But I gave them them my 'income tax manifesto' which is pretty critical of the overall tax industry. They responded that my tone didn't seem appropriate for their publication.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 03, 2016 12:41 PM  

No comments no traffic

Anonymous Jim Mortensen March 03, 2016 12:44 PM  

In completely unrelated news the members of the Guardian's Steering Committee all received $100 million bonuses this year to compensate them for taking the hard but necessary leadership steps of liquidating the companies only profitable assets. (/s sucks I have to add that, just want to avoid some moron screaming slander)

Blogger Ahazuerus March 03, 2016 12:44 PM  

Nope, on re-reading, you got it.

Mea culpa.

Blogger tz March 03, 2016 12:46 PM  

SJWs are only content when there isn't any.
The virtual safespace - padded cells have no furniture.

Blogger tz March 03, 2016 12:47 PM  

Where are all the SJW advertisers throwing so much cash with un-fat-shaming women hawking useless products?

Anonymous The other robot March 03, 2016 12:50 PM  

Yay!

NT Fishwrap next, I hope.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau March 03, 2016 12:51 PM  

The value of the newspaper declines precipitously when it goes to a digital format as it is no longer of use in wrapping fish, lining the bird cage, nor house training the dog.

Blogger Ahazuerus March 03, 2016 12:51 PM  

@tx

DoublePlus Goods?

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 03, 2016 12:54 PM  

Newspapers have never made money as a commodity.

They sold advertising.

They don't do that anymore. Because they can't, not at the rates they had become accustomed (bloated) to.

The Guardian is a non-profit message board. It shouldn't cost $1 billion to run a non-profit message board...especially when comments are closed.

Blogger Dexter March 03, 2016 12:57 PM  

The only logical solution is gov't subsidies.


Heck, why not a government takeover?

What would change if the government seized the MSM and called it the Department of Information?

From "all the news that's fit to print" to "TASS Is Authorized To Announce"...

Blogger Dexter March 03, 2016 12:58 PM  

Do SJW have any money?

Yes, they have the best kind of money.

Other People's Money.

Your money. My money. Neeeeeever their money.

Blogger praetorian March 03, 2016 1:00 PM  

The only logical solution is gov't subsidies.
Because reasons.


Well, there is one good reason, at least: because the brontosaurus media has been the primary weapon of propaganda on behalf of the government, and the boomers, on the whole, still dutifully sit down and patiently listen while how they are supposed to think is explained to them.

I would not be shocked at all to see government bailouts of media companies when the current crash gets to the fun part of the roller coaster, in the name of "national interests".

Blogger Cynic In Chief March 03, 2016 1:39 PM  

I wonder if you could use convergence as a business strategy. Get the SJWs to converge all your competitors and reap the profits when they are crippled/go under. As a bonus it give the SJWs something to do so they leave you alone.

Blogger weka March 03, 2016 1:44 PM  

The only way to make money as a paper now is to be local: report the courts, the local coucil, the meetingsd of the health board, university etc. Quicker than the same health board, council, university HR inform the employees.

People will buy that. They will read that. And the tillter box can still be lined, and the fish and chips come with their traditional wrapping.

The guardian has never made money. The Manchester Evening Standard used to. It was a local paper: boobs, beer, football and the council.

Blogger Eric Castle March 03, 2016 2:20 PM  

In all fairness in comparison with Facebook, Twitter, and a number of other solely online presences and ventures, etc. the Guardian may of at some point in history actually made A profit...of some kind.

Blogger Were-Puppy March 03, 2016 2:24 PM  

@12 Culture Heretic

Breitbart: Guardian closes comments
---

I think this SJW move will flush a lot of them down the can

Anonymous Philipp March 03, 2016 2:25 PM  

Excellent news.

Blogger Were-Puppy March 03, 2016 2:27 PM  

@21 Skylark Thibedeau

The value of the newspaper declines precipitously when it goes to a digital format as it is no longer of use in wrapping fish, lining the bird cage, nor house training the dog.
---

I've heard it said that the beginning of the end for them was when the want ads went online.

The few people I know who get a paper are getting it for the coupons.

Blogger Theproductofafineeduction March 03, 2016 2:39 PM  

@4

I think it is safe to say that their statement is evidence that the SJW has a short time preference horizon. Rather than pair down their expenditures to a manageable level they must slaughter the cows that gives them milk.

Anonymous Philipp March 03, 2016 2:44 PM  

"..the Guardian will, in an era of expected low interest rates, exhaust its billion-dollar patrimony in five years."

So the ultra-low interest rates set by the Central Bankers might have no chance to revive the economy but still have some good effects. :-)

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau March 03, 2016 2:48 PM  

@32 Were. I never buy the local McClatchy rag anymore. It's getting as thin as USA Today anyway. I pick up a few copies of the Free Left Wing alternative when I need something to stuff a box or start a fire with.

Blogger Sheila4g March 03, 2016 3:01 PM  

@32 Were-Puppy: We used to get it for the coupons and ads, but decided any money we saved was exceeded by the subscription price. Happily print-free for more than 6-8 years now (I really don't remember exactly). Same goes for magazines.

I now have the conundrum of what to use to protect the garage floor when I clean my oven racks (that spray cleaner is corrosive). I'd rather buy some sort of packing paper than ever give another penny to the media.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau March 03, 2016 3:02 PM  

Many local papers make their money being paid by the Government to publish Public notices. One editor who was a friend of the family decided to do an expose on the local Court House gang run by the Democratic Party and they promptly sent their Notice publishing business elsewhere. He lost so much in revenue his paper went bankrupt and was bought out by his cross county competitor.

Blogger kudzu bob March 03, 2016 3:12 PM  

I am deeply skeptical of the idea that legacy newspapers will be able to survive the digital transition.

In the old days, the average man walking down the street would see newspaper vending machines on every corner. That constituted social proof that seemed to lend their contents credibility.

But where is the social proof for a digital newspaper, which isjust one among countless millions of websites.

Anonymous Bz March 03, 2016 3:16 PM  

It's comforting to know they will double down and lose it all, because that's the playbook. At least for once it's leftist money.

Blogger Rev. Right March 03, 2016 3:47 PM  

It's very interesting just how much of the media does not need to be profitable because of being underwritten by rich patrons. For example, nobody subscribes to National Review anymore, but it doesn't matter because they survive on donations. They don't need to keep their readers happy, just their donors. You don't buy a media company to get rich, you use them to stay rich.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 03, 2016 3:53 PM  

In order to underwrite the costs of this transformation, most of the trust’s income-producing investments have been liquidated in recent years in order to keep cash on hand — more than a billion dollars.

Well fuck me, who let the chickens get into the seed corn?

Anonymous BGKB March 03, 2016 3:59 PM  

very small percentage of Britons will pony up their hard earned cash to be constantly harangued with the idiocy that all the ills of the world are due to the fact that white Britons still HAVE any hard earned cash

Backing the importation of low IQ illiterate 3rd world masses is a bad idea for anything involving reading.

Anonymous Laz March 03, 2016 4:21 PM  

University of Kansas SJW's eat their own: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/03/pc-hysteria-claims-another-professor.html

Blogger Tom K. March 03, 2016 4:29 PM  

Exactly right. Otherwise, Breitbart could never have arisen.

Blogger Tom K. March 03, 2016 4:30 PM  

Exactly right. Otherwise, Breitbart could never have arisen.

Anonymous Eric the Red March 03, 2016 8:06 PM  

Safe spaces... what a contemptible travesty of both the English language and the human psyche. I wonder what the GI's of WWII would have thought about SJW safe spaces.

The whole idea came out of areas for "timeouts" when dealing with two-year olds throwing temper tantrums. Now these perpetual infants have no shame in expropriating the term for themselves and their fragile egos.

SJW's will kneejerk default to screaming "Hitler" whenever someone disagrees with them. But what would they do if Hitler reappeared and came back to power? There would be no repeat of WWII; these infants would shit in their pants if confronted with the idea of actually fighting him using real guns.

I guess the real result of WWII was to make the world a safe space for socialism.

Blogger dfordoom March 03, 2016 9:55 PM  

@46. Eric the Red

I guess the real result of WWII was to make the world a safe space for socialism.

I thought that was pretty much why FDR was so keen to get the US involved. To save Stalin.

Blogger James Higham March 04, 2016 2:33 AM  

Content is the major issue ... And loony editorial line.

Anonymous Jack Amok March 04, 2016 2:41 AM  

The "costs of converting to digital" should have been minimal

Astonishing how much money incompetent management can waste. I have a hard time coming up with a legitimate budget that spends that much money on something so trivial, though Jim Mortensen probably sussed out where it all went.


I think the future of newspapers is subsidy by entities that use them for purposes other than profit.

Pretty much sums up the present too, though the "not profitable" part isn't always on purpose.

Anonymous Jack Amo March 04, 2016 2:44 AM  

In the old days, the average man walking down the street would see newspaper vending machines on every corner. That constituted social proof that seemed to lend their contents credibility.

But where is the social proof for a digital newspaper, which isjust one among countless millions of websites.


Plus, increasingly individual articles are curated for people by someone other than the digital publisher. Bloggers link to stories, remix sites like Flipboard pull in stories, and whatever branding an outfit like the Guardian or the NYTs might have had is lost. For me, the source of this story about the Guardian isn't USA Today - it's Voxday.blogspot.com. USAToday.com might get a few cents for showing ads to the folks Vox sends there with this post, but there's not lasting benefit. Publishers aren't brands anymore - the people who remix their content are. The newspapers are just commodity providers.

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