Oh Woe Is Thee

Via Glenn comes William Jacobson’s frustration with Politico:

I still think of Politico as a political blog, but it now is more of a mainstream media operation populated by people who could just as easily be working at The Washington Post or The New York Times if those newspapers were not in such decline. As such, conservatives should be skeptical of Politico’s news operations.


And one of Glenn’s readers has switched from the NYT to the WSJ:

O’Rourke, of course, is exactly right. Part of my Saturday routine is to buy a copy of the Times and then read it over lunch. This past Saturday, the Times was either sold out or no longer available at the mini-mart where I usually buy it so I got a copy of the Saturday/Sunday edtion of the Wall Street Journal instead. It was excellent! I’m not business oriented (could care less about who is buying out whom, whether pork bellies are going up or down, etc.) and so always resisted the Journal. But the news section was great and the “Review” section fabulous. The Times has now lost my $2.00 to the Journal.

Both critiques strike me as exactly right, and also echoed by my own behavior.

Over the nine years I’ve been doing thing, I’ve developed a pretty stable, er, stable of news sources. Blogs can come in at out pretty quickly, but the big sources tend to stay put. But when Politico burst on the scene three years ago, they immediately earned a stall in my stable. But not so much anymore. Politico now reads much less newsy and much more bloggy — and I’d rather read real bloggers than faux. We tend to be obvious about our biases, not to mention aware.


And the NYT? Meh. It’s free, and worth every penny. But I pay for the Wall Street Journal (web and iPad editions) and love it. So if sometimes my links lead behind Rupert Murdoch’s subscriber wall… well, consider that my personal endorsement to pay for his content.

The lesson here, in this ongoing era of newspapers bleeding money, is a simple one and it comes in three parts. Bloggers can give away most anything. Newspapers can barely give away anything for free, if it’s crap. But a good newspaper can charge readers a hefty sum, and make us like it.

And the takeaway is even simpler: The next time you hear of some news executive complain that there’s no way to make money these days, ask him if he expects to spend much time with Murdoch in the poor house.


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