Friday, November 17, 2006

Quote of the Week

"If I had more time? I'd get into places where people are so afraid right now that the economics dominate the common sense. I'd get into a business like newspapers—local newspapers. Newspapers are a perfect example of how economics dominate common sense. Contrary to popular belief, newspapers aren't dying. Newspapers are making tons of money; they just aren't keeping their shareholders happy, they aren't meeting the expectations on Wall Street. The problem with newspapers is that they're trying to grow like they're Internet companies in 1999. Their shareholders are bitching at them about not showing growth in share prices. The minute you have to run your business for share prices, you've lost. It's over. They've focused on that and so they've lost. What they should do is step back and ask, "What makes us special?"

"I don't care how Internet savvy you are or whether you're in ninth grade or college, you're not going to read twenty-five pages of text online. In newspapers, you read more pages, you read more words. There's no way around it. But newspapers don't see their own value. They just don't get it. So they do dumb-ass shit, like they can't figure out who their customer is, they can't figure out what business they're in. They have all these news-wire reports, these breaking stories, but anyone who's Internet savvy knows that breaking stories, sports events, all that stuff is available on the Internet thirty seconds after it happens. The people who are in tune to wanting stuff immediately are going to get it online. But when you read The New York Times or you read the L.A. Times, you read the Chicago Trib or The Dallas Morning News, when they break a story that is unique, not just first, but unique, a story that you can't just pick up on the wire, you have to read it. And if it's geared toward different demographics, fine. Like, businesspeople have to read the New York Times business section—even though from personal experience I know they're wrong a certain percentage of the time. You still have to read it, just in case something clicks. Like for me. If I want to keep up with what's going on in Dallas, I have to read the local paper. So newspapers aren't dying; they're just undergoing an identity crisis. They don't know who they want to be."

-- Mark Cuban in Esquire

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