Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Begging the Government for Help

First off, it’s hard to remember what the internet was like before everyone was speculating on what newspapers should do with themselves.

Okay, now on to the actual point of this post, which is mostly an interesting quote from the economist. The post is a response to a response to a response to a New Yorker article by James Surowiecki where he argues that newspapers should have been more aggressive in recognizing what industry they’re really in and adjusting their business/product accordingly (Surowiecki is the only one of these I have actually read). In case I haven’t lost you yet, The Economist offers a different reading on alternate strategies for newspapers (and one I haven’t actually heard before!):

Often, when an industry faces decline, management and ownership will opt to take door number three; rather than reinvesting profits in new businesses or redistributing them to shareholders, they’ll direct them to legislators and lobbyists in an effort to buy themselves protection from competition. This has been the strategy used by agricultural and manufacturing interests, often, though not always, with success. I’m actually a little surprised that journalism has not been more aggressive or successful with appeals for government help.

While the author acknowledges it would be hard to squash the internet, it’s an intriguing point. When other industries get in real trouble there’s definitely a lot of going back to the government for help.

September 1, 2009