Newspapers R.I.P.

June 30th, 2011

Different business sectors have faced the digital revolution in very different ways. The music business has been virtually destroyed by it; mostly because it allowed and still allows its greed to dictate its every decision. Hollywood has embraced it and has tried to adjust to new profit centers and new business models. The book publishing business, perhaps having learned from the mistakes of the music business, has tried to get out ahead of change and tried to make digital books its own and in so doing is creating new, sometimes innovative opportunities.

But no business has approached digital with less intelligence, less vision or less strategic thinking then journalism. Arguably a business that could have been on the cutting edge, it has operated out of fear, ignorance and petulance. The results have been that once great beacons of journalism, like the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, have been decimated. Perhaps the penultimate story about this is told by James O'Shea in his new book The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers. My conversation with James O'Shea: