Monday, March 31, 2008

Don't bury me ('cause I'm not dead yet)

What's happening to newspapers? Nearly dead, right?

Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired and father of the Long Tail analysis, sees the numbers a bit differently. As he blogged recently:

If you'd ask me to describe the state of the newspaper industry based on the scary coverage about it alone, I would have guessed that it had fallen by half and that we were back to 1970s levels. Instead, it's a $45 billion business, which is twice as big as Google and Yahoo combined.

Yes, news economics are changing radically. I don't know anybody who's said that more or longer than I. But that's not the whole story.

I know that every time we talk about hopeful possibilities, a chorus will rise up to shout "Denial! Denial!" It can feel a bit lonely these days talking about our capacity to leverage exisiting capabilities into a bright, sustainable future.

This chart is a great illustration of the half-full-half-empty debate. Created to illustrate the death of newspapers, based on the recent revenue numbers the blogosphere cites as our death knell, Anderson notes that what it shows is an industry near its all-time high with a huge reserve of business.

This is a chart of revenues from 1982–2007, with print revenues in dark brown and online in a lighter shade. (The McClatchy numbers, BTW, are somewhat better):

Note to naysayers: please think before you write.

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