Friday, April 17, 2009

What If Kindle Replaced Newspapers?

One of my Twitter (@benet4nabj) media followers passed along an interesting blog post from the Media Nation blog. The April 17 post: Re-Kindling The Globe. In it, writer Dan Kennedy wonders what would happen if the troubled Boston Globe got rid of its print edition and handed out Amazon Kindle readers to its subscribers instead?

Kennedy uses The Globe's Sunday circulation numbers of around 400,000 for those receiving home delivery. "What if you gave every one of those households a free Kindle in return for a three-year, seven-day subscription to the Globe?" he asked. Using his math, the Globe would buy 400,000 Kindles for $300 a piece, which would cost $120 million. The Globe already charges $1o a month for its Kindle edition, Kennedy continued. "If it extracted that from 400,000 households, it would come to $48 million a year in guaranteed income for three years. (And I'm not so sure you couldn't charge double that.)," Kennedy wrote. "After that, subscriptions would renew automatically once a year, which is how the few online news organizations that charge for online access (the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic) handle it."

I am a 45-year-old woman who used an electric typewriter on her first journalism job, and I'd take this deal. It beats my current alternative, watching my local newspaper pile up in the yard because my partner refuses to give it up despite the fact he never reads them.

We've all seen the surveys about how the numbers of those actually reading a print newspaper continue to drop. My 65-year-old dad will read his newspaper until the bitter end; my 21-year-old cousin will never touch a paper, preferring to use his iPhone.

I think we all agree that what we do as journalists is worth paying for. The trick now is to find new ways to monetize what we do so that we can all keep our jobs, and more importantly, serve as an independent watch dog. NABJ should be among the players in the forefront to ensure that journalists of color are part of this new business model. This one of several areas I will advocate for if I am elected Region II Director for the NABJ board.

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