Publishing pains and profit panic

Media organizations struggle to shape a profitable paradigm for news.

ItâÄôs an interesting time for print media publications. Many, including our local Star Tribune, are losing money to decreased subscriptions and the devaluation of advertising space within their pages. More and more readers get their news online with the help of aggregating services such as GoogleNews to browse publications, all without paying a dime. This is good news for consumers in the short term, and itâÄôs great for Google, Yahoo and other news aggregators, which have seen their profit margins skyrocket. But free online news is terrible for publishers and news originators who are losing money despite generally expanding readership. Axel Springer, one of EuropeâÄôs largest publishers, thinks that a pay-to-click system may be the only way to make online news publication profitable. Though many think online news should be free, Springer asserts that high quality journalism costs money. Democracy cannot subsist on rumor. On another front, five major publishers âÄî Conde Nast Publications, Hearst Corp., Meredith Corp., News Corp. and Time Inc. âÄî announced Tuesday their plans to develop an online storefront to rival Amazon.com. Currently, Amazon only pays newspaper and magazine publishers 30 percent of their cover price to put content on Kindle. Publishers want to change that and claim some of the profits. If they wish to stay afloat, publishers will have to continue to develop new strategies for getting their product into consumer hands without letting other companies piggyback on their efforts. If rigorous journalism is to survive the shake-up, someone somewhere is going to have to pay for it.