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Last night at the Edelman/PR Week “New Media Academic Summit,” Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, described how the Journal had rethought its role as a newspaper. Rather than trying to present the first view of news, the Journal assumes its readers got the news the day before on line. Instead, 80% of the articles aim at helping readers understand the news they already have.

During the Q&A I asked something like the following: Nicholas Lemann on the panel said that the NY Times was disappointed with the traffic at Times Select (i.e., its content behind the pay wall). That seems to suggest that there are plenty of people around who can help us understand, and we’re willing to switch. Further (I said), I can get more focused analysis on the Web. E.g., the mailing lists I’m on about Internet regulation issues gives me far more coverage and analysis than any newspaper devotes to the topic, and the mailing lists include people with great expertise; newspapers can’t compete with that.

Crovitz replied that subscriptions are doing really, really well. So, apparently people are indeed willing to pay for the quality of analysis they get from the Journal.

So, that’s a model that works for the WSJ, and I’m glad to hear it. But, I wonder if it’ll work more widely. After all, some very high percentage of those subscriptions are expensed.

[Disclosure: I am on retainer to Edelman PR.] [Tags: ]

Speaking of which, Dan Gillmor (who I’m sitting next to right now) just had a great piece on the future of journalism published by the SF Chronicle.

11:25 AM Link | Comments (0)

One Response to “Newspapers’ sustainable value”

  1. on 08 Jun 2007 at 3:27 pmDave Wilson

    You can get free access to those articles from I just heard this on bloomberg radio