Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 18, 2002
BLOG: Can This Internet Last?

Reading Andrew Sullivan's latest column on the economics of the internet made me wonder about sustainability. Today, internet sites work hand-in-glove with old media mostly because the audiences are separate: some people read Sullivan's work on the web, for example, and some people read it in the papers. The demographic figures he quotes only underline this. What happens when the web-reading public ages? Sure, the National Review model -- cross-sell a dead-tree magazine to people who get hooked on the web version -- will still work, but even that isn't as useful a model for general interest newspapers as for hard-core opinion mags. The Baseball Prospectus model will work too, because the daily in-season commentary and the data-laden annual book are naturally complementary. The Wall Street Journal can afford to give away its political opinions for free because its business is based on people buying the business news. ESPN.com works because sports on the web is no substitute for television, so the name brand recognition built by the web can't cannibalize the network. And so on: there are plenty of unique examples that will prosper.

A question: NR, for example, is a success because its ideological purity builds a fanatically devoted base of readers. Sullivan's quirkier, but he too has strong opinions that form an emotional bond with readers. Does this mean that the real winners on the net will be those with sufficiently clear points of view that they attract the like-minded - and the losers will be those who try to hew to the old media pretense of being 'objective'?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:06 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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