Sunday, 3 June 2012

Warren Buffett’s Newspaper Purchase - my thoughts

The following is a rather long comment piece I posted on an article of Clay Shirky at:  regarding "Warren Buffett’s Newspaper Purchase".

But I cover a number of points that I think belong on my blog as well.  So here you go:

1)  Don't kid yourself commenters... Clay is right, Warren will unquestionably make money on this deal one way or another.  If you don't understand business and investing, I would suggest that you don't worry about it - what does it matter?

2)  Depending on which stats reports you read for which area, you will find that less than 80% of the North American population are counted as being "Internet Users" -

What these stats fail to tell you is what exactly that 80% are doing when they're online.  My 75 year old grandmother would check her email, look up some geneology and then get the hell out and if anything she didn't recognize came up, I got I phone call.... BUT.... she would be counted as an "Internet User" - but ask her where she would get her "news".... newspaper, TV and radio.

So this raises 2 points.  The first being - who the hell holds the right to say that the roughly 20% of the North American people who are not "Internet Users" should no longer have the right to read their news in print?  I mean let's face it, we're talking 20% of almost 350 million people... that's almost 70 million people!  But worse than that... out of the world population of 6.9 billion people, less than 33% of them are "Internet Users" - that means roughly 4.6 billion people shouldn't be allowed to expect their news in print?

Secondly, just because someone is declared an "Internet User" doesn't mean that they do everything online or that they are always plugged in.  Statistics have always been easily manipulated to paint whatever picture a person wants it to paint (even my numbers above - because let's face it, what are the percentages of those non-Internet-Users who are illiterate and can't read a newspaper or who are living in third-world countries and don't even have access to a newspaper or the Internet...) - but the point is, let's be responsible and look at this stuff from more than one set of eyes.  Furthermore, try talking to a number of "Internet Users" and ask them whether they get their news: online or offline? 

Another set of stats I've seen declares that 25% of Americans get their news online!  And it's declared as if that should be an impressive number!  Seriously?

3) Having said this - am I a bleeding heart, 'save the print' person?  No, I'm not.  I am deeply entrenched in a project that will massively change the digital landscape for media and advertising. 

Two of the things that this project will achieve (among many others) include: 1) it will bring an organization level to news and content never before seen publicly online and it will make embracing news online a source of enjoyment and pleasure for EVERYONE - even the non-Internet-Users of today.  2) it will redefine the print publication, free them of their struggles and allow them to stabilze.

Will print make a rebound?  I highly doubt it. 

Will it ever see the likes of its Golden Era again?  I highly doubt it. 

Can it be stabilized and once again turn a profit?  In some cases, absolutely it can! 

Will more print focused newsrooms continue to die?  In some cases, absolutely they will.

It is a rare ability to see the world through multiple eyes - but that's what is needed to get through the current state of media and the print industry.  Tunnel vision in any direction will be fatal.

Is Warren Buffett a fool for buyng up certain print publications?  I hardly think so!

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