Starving for a newspaper fix? Let them eat Kindles

Dan Kennedy asks a reasonable question: Would it be possible to drop the print model entirely and shift the struggling Boston Globe to a reader-paid model delivered on a Kindle?

At the risk of seeming like a chronic naysayer, I have to point to some problems with the idea:

Warnings about the online-only path

Neil Thurman and Merja Myllylahti of City University in London have published a study "Taking the paper out of news" in the academic journal Journalism Studies, examining the case of Taloussanomat, a Finnish financial publication that responded to the economic failure of its print product by shifting to a Web-only, advertising-supported strategy.

So now you know, and via radio

All the recent grunting and saber-rattling about stopping those evil Internet sites from stealing content strikes me as bizarre. Who are these bad actors?

Global village or global panopticon?'s shiny new Mug Shots gallery has sparked a debate: Is it the proper role of journalism to publicize everything?

In an email to several journalism-related lists, Nora Paul of the University of Minnesota declared: "I think it borders on journalistic malpractice! ... Journalism should be about putting important events in a community into context. This doesn't."

Don't underestimate the importance of small talk

The usual curmudgeonly complaint about online interaction is that it's banal: a bunch of bloggers (or Twitterers, or whatever) in pajamas (or whatever) blathering on about what they had for dinner (or whatever). But mark me down as one of those who's not bothered by occasionally reading a Tweet about something good to eat.

Notes from the unification

Perhaps there is a time and place for everything. The era of newspapers operating wholly separate online divisions clearly has ended, and the era of integrated newsrooms has begun. From that union we're all learning some things.

Let the bad ideas flow

With all the hyperbolic, ill-sourced and often self-serving End of Days coverage of the newspaper industry lately, we shouldn't be surprised to see any number of really bad ideas surfacing -- and I don't just mean paywalls.

I say: Let the bad ideas flow. Sometimes bad ideas spark good ones. Just don't drink the Kool-Aid.

Here's one that might smell good but bear poison: Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin's proposal to let newspapers dodge taxes by declaring themselves to be nonprofit charities.

Newspaper ownership and the fourth generation syndrome

There are still a few family-owned newspapers in America, but only a few. Most were gobbled up by corporate consolidators -- newspaper chains -- decades ago. The reason, I think, has to do as much with the dynamics of a family business as with corporate finance and the peculiarities of newspapering.

There are four cycles in the life of a family business. Often they align with generations:

Know your own business model

As I observed Friday, newsrooms are categorically blind to the underlying business realities of their own employers. This leads to needless shock and amazement when an overleveraged newspaper chain falls on hard times, a lot of pointless hand-wringing about the future of journalism, and a parade of kooky ideas about how "we" are going to "make them pay" for all the really great content that Google, et al, are "stealing."