Today, after 150 years of news coverage the Rocky Mountain News went to the press for the last time. With the Rocky’s presses coming to a halt, it only highlights the larger issue of the newspaper business and brings to the forefront of our dialogue on the modern media landscape where print media outlets are headed in the future.
Rich Boehne, President and CEO of e.w. Scripps, the parent company of The Rocky Mountain News captures the essence of the situation in his address to the staff of the paper, “…its certainly nothing you did, you all did everything right, but while you were out doing your part, the business model and the economy changed and the Rocky became a victim of that.”
In an unstable economy, coupled with a population that has increasingly become used to obtaining its news and information for free from the internet, it’s a poignant question to ponder: what business model can work for print outlets in this day and age? Is it something along the lines of the model of cable channels, as Mark Cuban suggested earlier this week, or is it gated walls, which will only allow paid subscribers access to content – a strategy which has been tested by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal. For the moment, if its not too late already it seems as if more and more outlets are going to turn toward online subscriptions, which is now reportedly being explored by Newsday and The San Francisco Chronicle. If the industry turns toward that model, the question remains with so much content online is it possible to reverse course and alter the expectations audiences have online and convince them to pay for quality content?
Think about it – it’s a topic we’ll be coming back to in the coming months. In the meantime, here’s a documentary that The Rocky Mountain News posted on their website today, and it provides a unique perspective as to the value newspapers have on informing and shaping their local communities. What will provide that communal bedrock moving forward in the digital age?