Sickening feeling

Been laying low recently with a flu bug. But the news this week out of the print industry hasn’t made me feel any better, with newspapers big, small and corporately ugly further surgically hacking themselves to pieces.

David Carr’s recent idea about revamping the free online news content model and changing it to a paid one by going the route of iTunes has merit. Carr makes the point that Steve Jobs and Apple largely recovered the idea of paying for music at a time when pirating for free was rampant, if not virtually accepted by everyone but the music industry.

Mr. Jobs saw music as something else — as an ancillary software business to generate sales of the iPods and iPhones. That’s not a perspective that flattered people in the music business, but it did persuade listeners to pay for their wares.

Now all that’s left is for someone to invent a comparable device to make news articles portable, Carr writes.

Ay, there’s the rub.

See, unfortunately, this presupposes that the genius MBAs and puppet publishers running the news industry are smart enough to figure out anything other than new ways to slowly kill their businesses. Don’t blame it on the New Depression; these yo-yos were mismanaging the industry long before the economy went south.

I’m not sure they could find their way out of a paper bag, but they sure are good at driving their industry into the earth. Perhaps that’s a preferred fate anyway for the CEOs and their Boards, who can reap the rewards of writing off their failures. Not so much for their workers, discarded like yesterday’s news.

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