I received an email from reader with a suggestion that I thought I'd throw out there.
...the possible purchase of the Herald by local interests, possibly in combination with one or more private equity groups.Alesh at Critical Miami has some thoughts on the ownership issue:
With the Tribune Company and Sun-Times Media Group in play, Dow Jones selling off six community newspapers of $282 million and the successful IPO of GateHouse Media, the financial markets are displaying a sharp interest in media properties.
The McClatchy folks would be forgiven for quickly changing their minds about the suitability of the Herald within their portfolio. It is clearly the odd duck in their family of publications.
And the Herald needs the tender attention of an ownership group better able to manage the intense quirkiness of the South Florida market...something best (and perhaps ONLY) done from a local perspective.
[Michael] Kinsley suggests that local ownership of newspapers would go a long way toward avoiding situations like this [staff cuts at the L.A. Times, ordered by The Tribune Company, its parent company], but in a world where large holding companies make offers on devalued properties, a local interest has no guarantee of being able to hold on to a newspaper trying to navigate through the stormy waters the industry is in. I’ve suggested considering non-profit ownership of newspapers in the past. Non-profits are much more likely to resist buyout offers, and their structure is, at least in theory, more in line with newspapers’ stated goal of working for the public good. (The only two newspapers I know of that are non-profit are the St. Petersburg Times and the Christian Science Monitor.)Unrelated to ownership, but certainly important to the future of the newspaper business is the Internet. Alesh goes on to say:
...newspapers should try to take part in the larger online conversation. I would argue that an important part of that is dropping this bullshit about paid archives. I don’t know how much the Herald is making from their archives, but I expect it’s minimal: nobody’s going to pay $2.95 for an old article unless they really, really need to. On the other hand, old articles can be very useful if they’re free, open, and searchable. Again, I don’t know how much ad revenue the Herald averages per article impression, but it strikes me as self-evident that the finances for open archives work out a lot better then for closed.So what says the peanut gallery? I don't think McClatchy would be willing to abandon The Herald so quickly, but if it continues to lose circulation at the current rate, they might reconsider. Local ownership combined with a non-profit structure might be the only way your run of the mill local papers like The Herald will survive into the long-term future.
Putting old stuff behind a paywall not only doesn’t make business sense, though—much more importantly, it belies a lack of understanding of how the internet really works. Links that expire do not exactly encourage linking.