Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Shoptalk: Not Just Our Crisis

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Shoptalk: Not Just Our Crisis

Article excerpt

Paraguay, the second-poorest nation in South America with a per-capita GDP the World Bank estimates at less than $2,000, would seem an odd place for U.S. newspaper executives and journalists to bemoan the state of their business.

Yet on the Ides of March, I found myself in the capital city of Asuncion at the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Midyear Meeting participating in a panel discussion titled "The U.S. Newspaper Industry: At the Edge of the Cliff." Moderated by Milton Coleman of The Washington Post, the other speakers were Earl

Maucker of the South Florida Sun- Sentinel, Ed Seaton of The Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury and Liza Grossman, just departed from The Miami Herald.

Prepping for the discussion a week or so before, the five of us thought there might be a fair amount of interest in the topic among the Latin American news-paper publishers who make up the bulk of IAPA's active members. But it was at once gratifying and a little chilling to witness the lively questions and discussions we set off, not just during the formal session but in the many conversations for the rest of our time together in Paraguay.

It was gratifying, of course, because we wanted to give our colleagues useful, actionable information. But the interest was a little chilling, too, inspiring an epiphany before I had even left the dais: Newspapers of the United States are the canary in the coal mine to newspapers in Latin America and the rest of the world. We are that aged penguin thrown down the icy canyon to see if the others in the colony can survive the descent.

Our hemispheric colleagues were extremely interested in how U.S. newspapers got into the fix we're in, how we propose to get out and what strategies, if any, have worked so far. There were repeated questions about online operations -- and why they were not generating profits anywhere near the volume needed to replace falling print revenue. Were niche print products working? How, exactly, do you organize newsrooms to simultaneously report and present news in print, online, mobile, video and other media?

Most of all, though, our Latin American colleagues wanted to know what they could do to avoid our fate. The shining city on the hill, as President Reagan once called us, was no longer so much inspiration as a cautionary tale -- of too much debt taken on, of digital opportunities squandered, of the arrogance, as Earl Maucker put it, of newspapers that thought they could endlessly order readers and advertisers to do things their way, or else. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.