Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Go The Distance...

Detroit's on it's way to being a two-paper town without a paper to be found.

Detroit's daily newspapers undertook the bold move Tuesday. To hear them tell it, it's the brave act. However, they didn't do it to lead the way, but rather to crawl out from under the piano of financial and structural overhead that so many other publishers and managing editors would like to do. Detroit's dailies will only be delivered in-home three days a week and the online edition will no longer be free.

That's just a start. If the paper's joint-management team had its' way, the presses and the delivery would all go away. It's a sad truth in Detroit, a town that labor built, because the large overhead is now largely obsolete. There's paper to buy from monstrous mills, and that production cost is no longer a thrill. There's manpower for staffing and benefits to be paid. There's editorial boards and advertising dollars to be made.

There's delivery to mailboxes and the coffee house's deep pockets. The problem is, by the time the paper is here, the next day's news is near. And the cash flow inward no longer matches the cash going out.

Get the point? Detroit's joint-operations management is starting the ebb away from paper and towards exclusive online production. The Detroit Free Press reported an 85% jump in online hits this year as compared to last, if reporter M.L. Elrick's numbers are true as reported by a local Detroit television station two days ago.

I haven't purchased the paper is several years, because the Internet is always on and I don't have to leave the house, much less open the door. I say go the distance, with apologies to Kevin Costner, and finish the job. Go online for good and make it a cash cow.

The Oakland Press got the jump on Detroit's dailies in the prep sports genre with the alpha launch of MIPrepZone and the large family of blogs found at BlogCentral last year. The large network of neighborhood apers, opinions and blogs gives the Oakland Press a longer, more substantial reach beyond what our competition could compete with in an immediate sense.

The buggy whip was popular in it's day, too, but the car changed everything and the automobile grew. We're on a new cusp of society-altering change. Papers have long been running two editions too many. It's one or the other, and online is winning, so why delay the inevitable as the paper keeps thinning.

I say rock out the Internet; put that paper down. Metro Detroit's leading the way to a paperless crown.

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