The Death of Newspapers, by the Numbers

By David Weir 

It’s incredibly simple to become a publisher today, as every blogger knows. With our overhead so drastically reduced, and with the dimensions of time, space, and place vastly diminished in importance, suddenly it is possible to serve an audience of, say, one million visitors with far fewer than the old rule of 1,000 journalists (one journalist for every one thousand readers).

In fact, in the online environment, such ratios would be so unsustainable as to be laughable. Besides, in the old world, readers generated quite a bit of revenue in the form of subscription fees, newsstand sales, display ads and classified advertising — all of which subsidized our work, but much of which has disappeared.

Nowadays, most online news revenue is dependent on banner ads or one of the more innovative contextual advertising models via collaborative filtering and other disruptive technologies. In a relative sense, the old revenue stream supporting us has narrowed to a mere trickle.  Read more.

David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7×7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977.