MADELEINE BRAND, host:
There's lots of bad news out there and now, fewer people to cover it. Newspapers and magazines are laying off thousands of people. Here in Los Angeles, 75 journalists will leave the Los Angeles Times. New Jersey's largest newspaper, the Star Ledger, will lose nearly half its newsroom. G-net just announced 3,000 layoffs across the country, and Time Inc., publisher of Time, People, and Sports Illustrated, it'll shed 600 jobs.
David Car writes about this in his media column in today's New York Times. And, David, I read your column in the print edition, so not online. I'm probably in the minority. And so, is that the core problem, that there are just fewer people picking up a newspaper these days?
Mr. DAVID CARR (Columnist, New York Times): Oh, Madeleine, let me thank you first and foremost for buying the paper. We need the eggs, if you know what I mean.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. CARR: There's a consumer problem. There's also an advertising problem. The consumer problem is, we have better audience than we ever did before, but fewer of them send us 600 bucks or so a year to read the paper. And the expectation, of course, when we come online is that all information, including stuff like what we do or Los Angeles Times does or Wall Street Journal, which costs a couple bucks to put together, should be free anyway. And if we don't make it free, someone else will. But on the ad side, those consumers are worth relatively less than they would be in the print product, and so it creates kind of a double whammy.
BRAND: Well, so how are companies going to move to the web, the electronic world, and cover all the news that they cover now with few journalists. I mean, couldn't you argue that they'll need even more people because it's a 24-hour news cycle online?
Mr. CARR: Well, there's two things going there. Each journalist, I think, is ever more powerful than he ever was or she ever was because of the tools on the desktop. I would argue that our paper today and many other papers are far deeper, richer endeavors because we all have the ability to listen on the web in addition to publish on it, and the tools on my desktop compared to 10 years ago, no comparison. But, yes, there's a 24 hour paradigm that's pretty much file and face plant and then get up and do it again. You know, I do video. I do blogging, and I write for the newspaper.
In terms of funding that go in for it, we met with Bill Keller, our boss. He seems fairly confident that we're going to be able to maneuver our way through. It's going to be a complicated endeavor. Part of what has to happen is we have to find a way to replicate sort of the historical print model on the ad side, which is, we sell scarcity and position in our newspaper. In other words, Tiffany's has been buying an ad in the upper right of page three for over a hundred years, and they see that as extremely valuable to their brand. We have to find a way to replicate that online, where we can draw more money out of our advertisers for online ads as well.
BRAND: But you just said earlier that those advertisers don't view the online viewer as as valuable as the print viewer.
Mr. CARR: Well, part of what happens is, there's a system of mechanized selling on the web, Google, Ad Sense, etc., that equates eyeballs with eyeballs, and there's very little differentiation in terms of what a reader represents. And I do think that it behooves certain brands to put together, you know, carefully constructed, high quality content to find a way to take the message to advertisers that those viewers are worth relatively more and find a way to sell against their content that reflects the quality of it.
BRAND: David Carr writes about new and old media for the New York Times. Thanks, David.
Mr. CARR: A pleasure to speak, Madeleine.
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