Saturday, March 28, 2009

A News Disaster


The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press began their "pay for play" electronic editions, so I thought I'd take a look since I subscribe to both print editions.

The Free Press edition simply failed to load completely:

The Detroit News... well....

I'll chalk this up to pre-game jitters on their part... waiting until after 10:00 pm on a Friday evening with the NCAA games playing improved performance significantly. But I suspect that the most loyal readers are older residents who enjoy flipping through the print edition with a cup of coffee on the table. They are probably having breakfast before leaving for work or some other activity and will find this new medium unacceptable as a primary source of news.

As for younger readers, I suspect they will simply ignore the electronic version or use it for finding specific news about issues... something that can be done without subscribing to the print edition. Younger readers are more likely to disregard the distinction between news sources [e.g., Detroit News vs. New York Times] and focus more on finding what they want quickly. And the "chatty" news items of the print edition will simply disappear from their radars.

Ironically, the New York Times and USA today, among other papers, offer local delivery. There is an option for mail delivery of the local papers, but the morning readers are just not going to be happy with the change.
This is the kind of desperation that kills off companies. They become cost conscious above being product conscious. They forget why people buy their products. They believe that because they can do something else, they should do something else... and then they do something that alienates their main customer base.

General Motors and the other domestic manufacturers focused only on costs during the 1980s and 90s and ended up with Chevrolets "rebadged" as Cadillacs. It didn't take the customer base long to see through that ruse. It made sense to the accountants; it made no sense to the buying public. And once you lose your customer base, it is difficult to recapture it.

People buy a product because it fills a need in a certain way. A local newspaper is a tactile as well as visual experience. If I simply want information about a subject, there are a variety of electronic sources available. For the most part, a local paper is a redundant electronic source. I can turn on the radio or TV for the 30-second "in-depth" blurbs. I can "search" a subject and get 354,672 online sources from Google or Yahoo!. I don't need a crawlingly-slow page load on a laptop screen for my local news... and really don't see myself "browsing" the "edition" the way the print version allows. I want to be able to walk past the stack on the table and grab a section for a casual second re-read of something that caught my eye earlier... I don't want to have to log back on and search for it.

And then there is the trip to the home "library".... Try dragging your computer in there.

The print editions will be delivered three times a week. But I'm thinking that the customer base will be trained to live without their morning paper as the unintended consequence of this strategy. After awhile, they will simply forget about subscribing. It will no longer be part of their routine.
But I'll give the devil its due: the interface is well designed, readable, and flexible... even if it is not the way... or where... I want to read a newspaper. I can see this as the future of newspapers when ultra-light weight, voice controlled, "take anywhere" computers become available. I'm talking about something about 1/8" thick, about 1/2 pound, with a 15-20" diagonal display... and indestructible. That's when newspapers will be obsolete... a decade or so in the future, perhaps.

<a href="" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)