Friday, December 11, 2009

Industry’s Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Had the privilege of attending a luncheon with Courier-Journal president and publisher Arnold Garson recently, and he said, in true Mark Twain fashion, that reports of the newspaper industry’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Newspapers are too good at publicizing their own problems, he said, while television news rarely reports on its own loss of viewers.

Newspapers remain a profitable industry, he said. Garson said papers that have gone broke have fallen into two main categories: Second tier papers that were artificially propped up for years by “joint operating agreements” and newspapers that unwisely took on too much debt. As other industries recover, so will newspapers, he said.

Garson conceded that newspapers must react to the times, starting with regular price increases, just like other businesses.

He is bullish on print, but can envision a day when a few editions each week are delivered electronically. The biggest obstacle to this is developing an electronic reader that interfaces well with the newspaper format, he said.

In closing, Garson said the C-J will publish his obituary and the obituaries of all of us who had gathered to listen to him, but not its own.

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