Newspapers’ Stand Against Tech Giants Won’t Save Them – Slate Magazine
Like Google and Facebook, newspaper companies often justified themselves both outwardly and inwardly by appeal to a noble social mission. But, also like Google and Facebook, their decisions at the corporate level were often driven by the pursuit of ever-greater profits. (Newspaper margins peaked in the late 1990s at well over 20 percent.) They could afford investigative teams, city hall bureaus, and in many cases even overseas bureaus, not because those teams’ work made them money, but because they served as loss leaders for their wildly profitable core products, including classified advertising. (Hello, Craigslist. Goodbye, classifieds.) In an era in which readers generally click on the headlines that interest them, which they are directed to by an algorithm that understands their preferences, the newspaper-bundle model that once paid for cops-and-courts reporters makes less and less financial sense.