A Note to Newspapers

I hate getting an envelope every however many weeks asking me to pay for my newspaper.  With that envelope comes the obligation to either write a check or find some cash. But it also comes with the uneasiness of deciding how much of a tip to leave the paperboy.  Of course these days, at least in my neighborhood,  the paperboy is not the neighbors’s kid.  It’s a whoever, that throws the paper into the driveway.

This scenario creates 2 unfortunate situations for the newspaper industry.

First , it forces me to re-evaluate the purchase decision of getting the newspaper every time I get the envelope.  2nd, tipping is not cheap these days, so the actual cost of the newspaper is more than the subscription rate.  For some, maybe double.

Being the curious and cynical fellow that I am. I went to the website of the Dallas Morning News to get more information on payment options. There, to my surprise was the ability to EZPay. I could pay by credit or debit card and avoid “The Envelope” . So I converted to payment by credit card.

For  a year of pre-paid service. Did they offer me a discount ? Nope. It was $19 dollars a month whether I got 1 month or 12.  New subscribers got a $30 gift card and 10pct off. But not me.  That’s ok. Belo needs the money more than I do.

But the bigger point here is one that eluded me in the past. The ownership of the credit card by newspapers. I’ve always been a believer that Amazon has excelled not just because they have great customer service and decent prices, but because they have those, PLUS they have my credit card on file. It’s easier to buy from Amazon than it is to go to the store.

Newspapers want to charge for content, or really, anything and  everything they can. In order to do so, you need to get the customers credit card on file. NO ONE , and I MEAN NO ONE is going to go through the hassle of entering a credit or debit card in order to buy their first penny, nickel or dime article. It’s far too much hassle. Even using PayPal is a hassle.

You need to get reader’s credit cards on files and start being the baby Amazon of your local area.

Whatever it takes to convert your daily home delivery subscribers to credit or debit card. DO IT.

I don’t know how many credit cards you have on file, but I would do all I could to maximize  that number and start selling everything and anything I could to those people.

The quickest and easiest place to start would be by making sure that every time I went to DallasNews.com you knew that my credit card was on file and  you offered me specials. Free or otherwise.  If some local artist has a small or large hit, go to the label and try to license it and offer it for free to those of us who pay by card. I may not want “Jessica Simpson’s latest hit, free to EZPay Subscribers”. I might just download the soundtrack to the local musical that you helped sponsor, or a special track from a performer coming to the local performing arts center. Or what about the speech that an author gave at the local college ? Or the presentation at the local breakfast club ?

In fact, you should look at anything and everything digital that you can acquire and give away or sell to your subscribers.  It costs you next to nothing to host and allow the downloads, but you are driving traffic, and  immediately offering incremental value that isnt available elsewhere.

From there, its a question of imagination.

Want the super special Dallas Cowboys expanded 10 page draft section. $5.00, charged to your card.  Get the weekly video blog for the Dallas Mavericks, delivered to your email box for only 29c per month, charged to your card annually. Want to get the indepth analysis of whats going on with High School Football, get the exclusive insight that only Joe Blow of the Morning News can offer for $2.95 per month, Delivered to your email, or get our special expanded print edition every saturday with indepth analysis and pictures of every high school football game with exclusive links to online video for only $9.95 per month during HS football season.

Upload us a family picture and 500 words, and we will put it front and center on the front page of the Morning News along with the headline you pick and deliver it to your door for $25. Want a copy for grandma, $10 per extra copy.  We have negotiated for a special price on the Disney DVD release of The Jonas Brothers DVD. Have it on your doorstep at 5am the morning its released, for the low , low price of $17.95.  Our advertiser, Dallas Flowers is offering a mothers day special of a dozen roses for $19.95 if you pre order from DallasNews.com/mothersday and  pay with your EZ PAY.

You get the picture.  People are used to looking at the paper for advertising. They are used to scouring the paper for deals. The only thing they aren’t used to is actually buying things through the paper.  I have no idea what products, content or gimmicks will work. But I do know, that if you make things interesting, differentiated and easy to buy, you might just sell something. Will it be $100mm dollars, or digital pennies ?

Only one way to find out

99 thoughts on “A Note to Newspapers

  1. While a micro payment system for newspaper content is a great idea, I would think credit card processing fees may be a problem. Say for example you have individual transactions at 1cent each, well, if you tried to charge a credit card for 1 cent, that one cent would go right in the pocket of the merchant processor.

    What the newspaper will have to do instead, is have an internal credit system, where say you buy packs of 100 article credits for x dollars, are charged x dollars for that credit, and then the credits are deducted as you view articles. I’d also suggest charging different rates for printing or emailing an article, and simply viewing an article. Of course, this is going to cause a great deal of trouble for the blogging world, which relies on linking to content from newspapers and other journalism outlets. How will payments affect them? Depending on Context, people have certain rights to reproduce copyrighted material. The whole problem with saving the newspaper business, is that its going to have to require some legislation and possibly trips to the supreme court before any new model can really take off.

    Comment by mm -

  2. Wow! you hit a nerve… or of course like 5,000 nerves (since the comments are all over). just wanted to say, I think you are on target. as a WSJ and Chicago Tribune print subscriber, i have noticed that service from both these operations on the subscriber end SUCKS! (fair play to them, WSJ is better then ChiTribune). Really, the message to the subscriber for like forever has been scorn or ignorance — no doubt bean counters determined in the aggregate it’s preferable to have folks pay every month or whatever instead of annually… (which at tribune you can do, but it’s a struggle).

    Ironically, in a time when probably the major hurdle news orgs need to overcome is producing stronger content, and monetizing that, they *also* need to re-examine basic business practices like their subscriber operation. If I ran a paper, redoing subscriptions is where I would start.

    Comment by gordon mayer -

  3. Mark,

    This is a great read. Not only is it informative, but motivational. Anyone with a true self-starting mind can take this and adapt it into something that they have an interest, whether newspapers, or baseball cards, your concepts are right on.

    They are nothing that you might not think about here and there, but it is a thought that you think about, and tell yourself to remember, or write down, but never actually get to it. Today is the first day that I have read your blog, and I am very happy I found it. You write the way you speak, and you speak in a very clear, and easy fashion.

    Thanks for this post, and the many others I plan to read.

    You are a true entrepreneur. These days, that term gets thrown around too much. For you, it is an understatement.

    David K.
    Sausalito, Ca

    Comment by David -

  4. Some great points! There is also a hint of local community service, which the local newspaper could use to its advantage, compared with USA Today or WSJ in the local market. Keep up your great work!

    Comment by I. C. London -

  5. That’s a great idea. The are already paying for a human being to come to their house, so why not get everything delivered. Concert tickets, Maverick’s willcall tickets (maybe coordinate with stub-hub so that EZPass customers get a discount.)

    If they started adding value to the newspaper delivery, I might actually be interested in getting a paper each morning. THe $100 / yr isn’t the reason I don’t–it’s just that i can get the same news via email or the inter-web. GIving me something that i can’t get digitally might actually drive me back to being a paper subscriber, something that they desperately need to do, right?

    I read your blog occasionally, and respect that you seem to be enjoying your life. (I’d totally buy a NBA team too if I could afford it)–but every once in a while you remind me why you’re successful. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you (like everyone) get it wrong, but more often you get it really, really right.

    Comment by Matthew Desario -

  6. Pingback: Newspapers and Baby Rainbows | Chaos Program

  7. Mark:

    You should come talk about this and some of your other ideas for newspapers at: “From Gatekeepers to InfoValets: Work Plans for Sustaining Journalism,” May 27 at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I’m organizing the event and this is your invitation. Please shoot me an email for details.

    Bill Densmore, 2008-2009 Fellow
    Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
    Missouri School of Journalism
    Columbia MO

    Comment by Bill Densmore -

  8. If they have your CC on file, meaning you’re a subscriber already, why would you need to pay for an article online?

    That might by my own ignorance of how that works, as I just read all my news online.

    Comment by Tim Wright -

  9. I have been a subscriber to the DMN for over 25 years. I signed up for EZ pay and it has been a nightmare. There have been a series of screw ups. Once you sign up for EZ pay, you can not resolve the problem online. You have to call their put you on hold customer service center. I have given up on reading the ever dwindling paper. I have joined the growing legion of cancelled readers. They can not get their act together. When the DMN folds, I will not be surprised.

    Comment by Joed -

  10. “Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.” -Thomas Jefferson

    Comment by JB -

  11. A fans of dirk from china,I love mavs.Go mavs.Go mark

    Comment by 谢火坤(shayne) -

  12. Im starting to want to get newspapers more now on account I am getting hacked like crazy. Sometimes being good at poker is not good.

    The Mavericks can beat the Nuggets. I am hoping for it.
    But I am also hoping the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Capitals.

    I can not believe Mayweather took off so much time from boxing he could of banked another 40 mill on fights in his prime. I could never see why he would do that when he had an Oscar and Hatton fight in the wings. Manny Pacman has taken his place at the top.

    I knew Floyd would be back but I believe it was a huge mistake to retire in his prime with that much money available on sure victory’s for Mayweather.

    Comment by Whitewoody -

  13. Why are you trying to save the one business that Buffett would never buy, at any price? Igon was about 20 years ahead of his time in Ghostbusters when he said “print is dead”. You can trust me on that quote. Hey, go re-watch the movie if you don’t believe me.

    Comment by John Kochtosten -

  14. Pingback: ZEITGEIST / And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #37

  15. Pat said:

    “You want me to get an added value from my newspaper? Online box scores. But, that is a more expensive license from the AP.”

    Do you not get these already? I see the DMN site has them: http://tr.im/ks5E

    Are you looking for something else?

    Comment by Jon DeNunzio -

  16. Micro-payments for newspapers?
    No thank you!!!

    Comment by Ward Roberts -

  17. Mark, I am an old time Maverick fan. I used to go to games but due to health and age, this year we have had to watch the Mavericks on TV. I read in the Dallas Morning News that there is a possibility you are going to break up Ortegel and Followill. I hope this is not true. They are the BEST game reporters by far. They call a great game. They are far superior to any other sports announcer. I am always disappointed when I have to listen to some of the other announcers who do nothing but gab! I like to hear about the plays in case I have missed seeing something.

    Comment by Martha Taylor -

  18. Pingback: Four Point Report » A WebComic’s Visceration of the Newspaper Industry

  19. Pingback: Daily Digest for May 4th | The Entroporium

  20. This will not work.

    1. People expect their internet news content and information sources to be free
    2. People hate being solicited.

    If I went to a news site that not only charged me more for “premium” content (on top of already requiring that I pay to access the normal version) but also bombarded me with “offers” every fucking second, I would seriously flip my lid, cancel my subscription, and go to the free, less intrusive alternative.

    Comment by theNEOone -

  21. So, when does the blog come that whines about the refs? You have Dallas fans following your lead in the whine department. Check out your DMN Mavericks blog. Funny, when Dallas wins, it’s a well called game. When Dallas loses, it’s the refs fault. I’m about to cancel the DMN subscription because the writers there are buying into this whining.

    Comment by John Kochtosten -

  22. Mark – I am a 29 year old church planter from Charlotte, NC. This is my 8th stab at reaching you. I tried this route last year to no avail, but know no other way to put myself out there. I am asking you to graciously consider meeting with me for 15 minutes. I will fly to anywhere in the country to meet you if you will give me 15 minutes to share my story and ask for your financial support (which is tax-deductible, of course). 15 minutes. I’ll come to you and then leave if you don’t like what you hear. Thanks for considering.

    Comment by David Docusen -

  23. Have you noticed the reduced size these days? Is this reverse streamlining by the reader? In other waords, If you cut mine off, I’ll cut yours off.

    Comment by webjock1 -

  24. oops…lappy…that’s mrslappy sorry still regrouping from todays game. GO MAVS!!!

    Comment by Deb -

  25. mrslackey needs more fiber in their diet…just saying. I hate the “envelope”

    Comment by Deb -

  26. Pingback: Billionaire Mark Cuban Complains About Price of Newspapers «

  27. We will see a lot of this in the near future. Microtransactions are an easy way to charge for additional features and content. Price has to be small though. Apple iPhone OS 3.0 is implementing microtransaction ability within apps now. Finally i can unlock new featres, skins and/or content within seconds for pennies. I agree that not having an account on file is a deterrent when it comes to purchase decisions. You lose the impulse buy and therefore, lose a sale.

    Comment by @peterlevin -

  28. Pingback: The Revival Network: The New Hometown Newspaper!

  29. I like American newspapers. They get it without bg talking to the point 😀

    Comment by Highland -

  30. it was ineviatble, for the Credit card (cc) crisis to be. the fact that most of the people arround cannot apply for a bank loan or credit have made them, to lean into their credit cards, pumping the iou’s into their balances

    Comment by ipsp -

  31. In my country (as in other Scandinavian countries) this is not a problem because we pay all our bills using internet banking. We can get an electronic invoice, paper invoice or allow them to automatically draw a fixed amount from our accounts.

    Did I mention that we can also do this using phones, and even SMS? We have to pre-approve the sender of the invoice to use SMS of course due to security concerns (otherwise we will have to login to the bank and pay it from there).

    The U.S. seems really far behind in the use of technology. I don’t think a single person here has used a check in the last 15-20 years.

    Regarding customizable news papers: I may be showing my age here, but I don’t think this is a good idea. One of the benefits of having a complete news paper, is that you sometimes read about things you would normally not be interested in. It seems very restricting intellectually to only be fed information in areas you already have an interest in.

    Comment by Anonymous -

  32. Micropayments for newspapers. No thanks.

    Comment by IChrisI -

  33. The local Amazon idea is great. But in there is also another gem, the idea of leveraging the extensive early morning delivery networks that newspapers operate. Think of all of the customized and timely items that the newpaper guy could drop off at your doorstep.

    Comment by Andy -

  34. Mark,

    Thanks for the blog and keep up the good work. Go Mavs!!!

    Comment by Quincey -

  35. Mad Magazine (is there anyone out there over 40 years old that even knows what I’m talking about?) had a recurring feature of “middle-class poverty,” which was perfectly characterized by a husband/wife hiding in terror when the paperboy was knocking on the door to collect his tip. My perception of Mark Cuban is now forever changed to think he gets a physical newspaper? I really don’t believe it.

    Comment by Jay Krackeler -

  36. I like the ideas. I mean, you need to be innovative these days in order to make it in the newspaper business. So make subscribing easy and rewarding; why not offer an discount to subscribers on product ads they see in the paper? Just put a code on each product advertised in the paper, subscribers must visit the paper’s website to purchase the product with a discount, the paper gets a cut, makes advertisers happy, increases site traffic, makes subscribers happy, and gets to up-sell the subscriber other ‘exclusive offers.

    maybe the dying Boston Globe is in your future?

    Comment by bikerfan -

  37. Pingback: Diggings » Busy Week For Daily Newspaper Bad News…

  38. I can’t believe you’ve been avoiding the BS report with Bill Simmons, it’d be so great to hear a conversation between the two of you. Hopefully, if the Mavs make it past Denver, and I expect them to, you can visit him while you’re in LA for the Western Conference finals, like he said. Oh, and as for your newspaper plan, it’s basically a really easy to implement micropayment plan, because it’s limited to each newspaper’s site. Glad to see you understand the economics of that, even if you don’t seem to appreciate the advantages of having micropayments that work across every website and how that is in fact very doable.

    Comment by Ajay -

  39. I like your blog, newspapers have always been my main source of information. The other day I read about a med student killing women, very crazy stuff! I think its time for papers to change, keep up the good work!

    Comment by Blog King -

  40. Mark,

    You realize this is the time to make a move. You have the money, the connections… An online newspaper is a great idea… Make a site where journalists (recently unemployed) can write articles online, readers search, advertising revenue is shared w/ the journalists… Lets get a move on it…

    Adam Pritchard

    Comment by Adam Pritchard -

  41. My thoughts on newspapers http://technbiz.blogspot.com/2009/02/onto-digital-publishing.html

    Comment by Paramendra Bhagat -

  42. Great thoughts, but I’m totally shocked you actually still write checks – instead of automatic withdrawal. I write maybe 3 checks a year. Maybe.

    I love the morning newspaper. I don’t know what I’d do if it goes out of business — maybe quit drinking coffee.

    Comment by Mark -

  43. Can’t believe I knew something that Mark Cuban did not know. For years I have been paying for the Star Telegram through their web page. Star Telegram gives U a Press Pass for paying in advance for 6 months, Gold Press Pass for 12 months. U get all kinds of very good discounts on car washes, movies, Rangers/Stars tickets and tons of other entertainment in the metroplex. 20% off scores of restaurants in North Texas is an also a member benefit.

    New subscribers get a $99 a year subscription rate by simply canceling after one year and the paper will beg U back within a month or two. Read the paper online for 30 days. Not all of us have Mark Cuban coin.


    Comment by Bonzer Wolf -

  44. Mark,

    You mean you want them to become marketing companies like most successful media outfits?

    Sure, sounds like a great strategic plan. Problem is, there are no newspapers that I know of with the culture, resources, and mindset to to this.

    There are also many structural reasons why this is so. 1) Most of them are loaded with debt 2) Print circulation is an unmanageable fixed cost. It’s clear that print subs are not going to grow. So, to get started, they probably have to kill print entirely 3) Unions. Many of them have them. This is similar to the auto-industry problem of restructuring, along with the debt loads.

    I’ve summarized the problem including personal experiences in the print media world on Contentinople.


    As always, enjoy your blog.


    Comment by Scott Raynovich -

  45. Sure beats the idea of micropayments.

    Comment by Brendan Emmett Quigley -

  46. 11 Things I learned from Mark Cuban to win a fight.


    Comment by Ted Gambordella -

  47. Pingback: Contentinople - R. Scott Raynovich - Cuban Files: Can Newspapers Be Saved?

  48. Interesting, thanks for the post.

    Comment by LotteryPowerballNumbers -

  49. I am a Spurs fan and in my opinion it looked like the Spurs were looking for an early vacation.

    I am pulling for the Mavs to get on a roll. Let’s get another NBA Championship before the Gov tries to secede.

    Good Luck

    Comment by ELG -

  50. Sounds like you should buy the paper.

    Comment by Ryan -

  51. Mark,

    I enjoy reading your blog. I hope that you continue to lead the digital revolution and hold companies accountable for not becoming more technical an evolutionary.

    Many blessings,

    Go Mavs! Go Mark!

    Comment by Alan Christensen -

  52. I admire your intellect.

    Comment by darryl -

  53. Hey Mark, Clarification for my last comment: That was 20k a MONTH increase for CEO of the Philly Inquirer, Brian Tierney. No shit. Check it.

    Comment by Frankie from Lawnside -

  54. Hey Mark, If someone buys a year of anything they should get a discount. One in the hand worth two in the bush,then you have auto resubscribe, ie, consumer reports. Its just good business, not giving away by any means. Another reason for a lot of probs with newspapers is something like with the Philly Inquire. Their CEO takes a 20k increase just before filing for bankruptcy having his spin doctors say he is taking on another position, Come on. What was he doing with all that extra time as a CEO that he can take another position. That same union is told they cant have their 35 dollar a week increase that their contract stipulated. ITS GREED. They people that built this country distributed earnings in a way they knew would come back to them and keep coming back. They didnt do it for the good of mankind either but the WW I and WW II era guys knew how to keep things going. They had INTEGRITY. It works. Its not charity but a proven tool. Thanks for the thoughts. And for MRSLAPPY,(3rd comment} Get out of the woods dude. A lot of people that dont eat Opposum for dinner every night get thier news paper delivered. lol. Thanks for the thoughts and GO MAVS!

    Comment by Frankie from Lawnside -

  55. u need not fill in forms over and over. download google toolbar and use ‘autofill’

    Comment by billeeD -

  56. Too bad you can’t specify that you only want the sports section thrown onto your driveway.

    Comment by Matthew -

  57. I believe that the online reading is the easiest solution. You can read your newspaper anytime when you stay in front of your computer and of course is the cheapest one 🙂

    Comment by Ken the tech -

  58. Hi this is frank emiro from the dallas morning news i work in nh as a c/s rep and was reading ur blog i agree with alot of your points and i would like to fix any issues you have i would like to speak with u your a very smart man and would just like to hear more about your thoughts on this matter

    Comment by Frank -

  59. Enjoy reading your blog, your entreprenuel spirit and your out of the box thinking. Before reading this post, ive always thought of why newspapers couldnt be more like other content providers. Television, radio and internet content is essentially given away for free. Newspapers make you pay for its content and its delivery to your door. Newspaper companys need to partner with retailers such as convenience stores and gas stations and give away free newspapers with purchase.You have to buy gas, beer or coffee, so why not make that purchase at a place that provides a free newspaper. The retailer would pay the newspaper company cost plus for each paper given away.You are guaranteeing the paper company (tens) thousands of new readers daily that normally dont suscribe or buy a paper. The retailer is guaranteed new and regular customers. Lets say a local Arco AM/PM gives away 100 newspapers a day, 100 x .15c (cost)= $15 to the newspaper company, 100 x $5 (avg. sale)=$500. I think this is a win-win-win for the consumer, the paper company and the retailer. I get home delivery of my local paper, but i would love to get a free copy of the San Francisco Chronicle each morning with my coffee purchase. In fact i am willing to switch retailers and go out of my way for one. Those who choose to retain home delivery would be given sub-only benefits on-line. Would love to know what you think

    Comment by Ranjit R -

  60. Interesting idea – definitely something worthy of additional thought. On a related note – in the early 90s, AT&T was working on a project to deliver news to your home printer – you select the interest areas, and voila, every morning you had all the news that you saw fit to print. Perhaps an idea before it’s time? Now with greater penetration of mobile devices, you could envision a similar idea being sent to a mobile device. Marry this with the ability to easily purchase relevant items, I think you have a winner. Let’s say there was a great review of a new business book -> click Buy Now to get a copy… When you provide a valued service, with an easy to use access method, things take off.

    Comment by Mike Moroze -

  61. Mark,

    I agree with your suggestions, but IMHO, they only work if newspaper companies’ core products meet the needs of consumers.

    After years of struggling to keep up with traditional news sources, I got so frustrated that I formed a company and we built our own new media mobile news app for consumers.

    It’s called “PimpMyNews” and it automatically collects the news and blog posts you wish you had time to read – and converts them to audio so you can listen & multitask in the car, gym, plane etc.

    The iPhone/iPod touch app is here: http://bit.ly/PMNiPhone (BlogMaverick is in our “Sports” category)

    We’re talking with a large newspaper company about leveraging our real time news engine to reach audiences on the go.

    Would love to hear what you think.

    Comment by John Atkinson -

  62. I was reading a newspaper yesterday on a windy day in the park. Boy was that a lot of fun. The paper is an awkward source of information now. I was so frustrated as the wind basically turned my paper inside out. I think if they reprinted Twitter and Facebook stuff from the previous day in the paper they would get better readership. Embrace the net. Go were your readers are playing. RIP Rosebud.

    Comment by tone -

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  64. Great article.

    They’ll never do it…it makes too much sense.

    Jeff, CPA

    Comment by Jeff @ another71.com -

  65. Well I am one of those really old farts that still reads the newspaper EVERY DAY. I also don’t owe anybody any money and have more disposable income than at any other time in my life, but that’s another story.
    I will keep reading every morning until the damn thing doesn’t show up any more (which I figure is about 5 years away).
    I really don’t want to haul my computer out to the kitchen in the morning when I have coffee and the DMN. I also don’t really want to drag my half awake ass into my office to fire up the computer and read the news online.
    I realize I am a dying breed and that the newer, hip generation gets their news on their I Phones or blackberrys (I have one of those). But there is something to be said for a hot cup of coffee and the sports section at 6:30 in the morning.
    Mark, I agree with your basic premise. I have been paying by credit card for years and they have never taken advantage of the info they have.

    Comment by MIckeyG -

  66. You might want to double check that EZ Pay $19.99 price. It’s going up to $28.50 a month. Not much for a guy like you, but it was enough for me to cancel DMN after being a loyal 7-day subscriber for over 15 years. The offered me the gift card and 10% off too. Not enough to get me to bite. Sorry, DMN.

    Comment by Stove -

  67. I’m not a big fan of Amazon. They rip of there webmasters and affiliates.. “Big Business” uses the money to buy expensive air craft and go on vacation. Greed is an envy for all man kind.

    Comment by slot machine -

  68. BRILLIANT. I agree 100%. I’m a transplant from New England to Southern California and I read the Boston Globe Sports Section every day. If they had some crazy promos for when the Celtics won last year, maybe a framed commemorative front page of the paper the day after, I’d have been much more likely to click and buy if they had my credit card on file.

    Comment by Bobby J. -

  69. I never got why more papers stayed away from turning online classifieds into auctions. It can’t take much to be a local eBay – set up the auction, get your vig, get people selling things locally. There are lots of ways to improve the paper. The dead tree version will go, so Kindle it is.

    Comment by aaron -

  70. @thekingofcheap
    I don’t see the problem. All you are doing is enhancing an outdated system. Normally a reader would see an ad. Now they not only see an ad but they can act on it at the drop of a hat.

    Why would anyone watch television when it plays the same obnoxious advertisements over and over again for a month straight?

    And yes, this comment system is rather outdated.

    Comment by Dan -

  71. Apple has only sold like a billion units on iTunes using this same strategy.

    Comment by Clark -

  72. newspapers are a total waste of money and are full of crap.

    Comment by tonyb -

  73. I am surprise you still read the newspaper, Mark!

    Comment by Newuser -

  74. Have you ever though of buying a stake in a newspaper, it doesn’t even have to be a major one, and trying to implement some of these changes and others to help save the newspaper industry?

    Comment by Andrew A McNeill -

  75. @ Stampy:

    No, if they are selling advertised products through their online portal to make money, news is subjugated, an overhead cost only retained in hopes that it leads to sales of some products. This is already what television actually is — ads filled in with some content.

    But whatever the main imperative, that’s picking fly shit out of the pepper. It remains to be seen why I should trust a news source that’s trying to sell me ACTUAL products. “We haven’t sold enough autographed footballs this month. Somebody get cracking on a Cowboys feature!”

    I love this blog and Mark is a pretty smart guy — smart enough to make his bajillions, anyway — but this post was the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on the Internet that didn’t involve religion or Sarah Palin quotes.

    Comment by thekingofcheap -

  76. “and maybe you should get into the newspaper / magazine business and create an organized system”

    I agree, but start your own Daily and use the Business model of Fort Worth Weekly/Dallas Observer with local ad support. I would rather pay for the Free Alt Weeklies and get my Daily for free online. Not the Quick or Avenues direction however. I know Belo & McClatchy need to pay bills, but they did this to themselves in the first place. Raise rates and drop circulation…and make it hard to pay…genius.

    Comment by Mick -

  77. Just because you have someone’s credit card number, name or email address, doesn’t mean you have the right to do whatever you want with it. The users must consent to any use like that and doing it with a really long TOS (terms of service) or Privacy Policy is very shady.

    The fact is that newspapers are out of date technology, nothing can change that. The only value to newspapers is the local stories and content and even that really isn’t worth paying for. Why pay for news when its all free online? Especially with AP News, its duplicated all over the web. Sure AP News wont have stories that are too local, but as I’ve read elsewhere the future of newspapers is to have a skeleton staff that covers local stories and sells them to bigger news organizations.

    Comment by jive -

  78. None of that would get me to subscribe to a newspaper. And I don’t want my credit card be on file anywhere. There are too many morons that lose laptops full of credit card data or bad IT people who don’t know anything about security running things these days. I like the idea of a customized newspaper, but I don’t think any paper has the technology to do that and it would put them out of business to invest in it.

    Comment by Bill -

  79. mrslappy — every heard of MicroSolutions? Was that luck too? Is Hd.net luck as well? Mavericks, is their success luck too?

    Comment by Quinn -

  80. mrslappy – gtfo if you don’t have anything nice to say. No one is forcing you to read these blog posts.

    Comment by mrbusche -

  81. The main thing is that the news paper industry is arrogant. They believe they are doing you a favor; a) by delivering the paper to your house in the first place, b) allowing you to interact with them on-line in terms of content, and c) by allowing you to pay for services on-line as opposed to sending a check.

    The only industry that is worse than the news paper business is the Yellow Pages industry. Both are very slow to transition product lines and revenue from print base to interactive media. Both are also entirely slow to transition from old inefficient work processes to stream lined / light weight production. All of this on top of being plagued by strong unions.

    In the news paper community, allowing you to pay with a credit card on-line is probably considered hyper innovative. By they time they figure out that the “1-Click” transaction is cool and that people like it, you’ll be reading the “Yahoo-Dallas Morning News” on your blackberry, I-Phone or some such device.

    Comment by James Frinzi -

  82. good article.and sadly because newspapers are the way they are they will never read this. they aren’t on line or socially on line nearly enough. you know they aren’t using spiral16 and prob don’t even google themselves to see what people are saying about them….

    Comment by rachel -

  83. What I hate even more is prepaying (so I don’t get the envelope), paying much $ to live in a nice, gated apartment building where my neighbors also pay much $, and having one of those a-hole neighbors routinely STEAL my Sunday Dallas Morning News. I live digitally during the week, but enjoy the pleasure on Sundays of a real paper newspaper with my morning coffee and the Sunday morning interview shows. Your Mavs made my Saturday (BTW, how do you drink that much water during a game and not have to get up and pee?), but some f-ing neighbor of mine has to go and screw up my Sunday morning… again.

    Your idea? Interesting.

    Comment by Cathy -

  84. @ kingofcheap
    Wouldn’t the main imperative be to deliver news to as many people as possible? Advertising would be the incentive?

    Comment by Stampy -

  85. Now newspapers have to whore themselves out to advertisers? Is nothing ever sacred anymore? People are extremely bombarded with crap they don’t want to see, let alone pay for. If the internet has something that newspapers do not (e.g. free news), than that is it for the newspaper industry. New technology has the power to destroy its predecessors. There are hardly any more vinyls, no more 8-tracks, no more tapes, and CDs are almost obsolete. Why? because newer and better technology wins! It’s science.

    Comment by TheDude -

  86. Interesting post. It actually sounds like a great business development project and maybe you should get into the newspaper / magazine business and create an organized system that will make it functional. It’ll be great for the economy and will likely save some jobs in this horrible economy. Just a thought


    Comment by Intrinsic -

  87. Hi Mark,
    I always thought changing their businessmodel is the best way out for newspapers, localizing content but I was not sure how they could charge for it. Your post is right on.. Thanks for the ideas. Hope ailing newspaper people read this..

    Comment by Ananth -

  88. @ Dan:

    To repeat my above comment less sarcastically: Why would anyone buy a paper whose main imperative is selling someone else’s merchandise?

    Comment by thekingofcheap -

  89. Violating the PCI DSS standard is something to be concerned about as Pat mentioned, so I motion to build a company that licenses the software to these local newspapers. (Maybe walk down the street, knock on Richard Mellon Scaife’s door and offer it for free to the Tribune-Review to build a rep.)

    I checked dallasnews.com and was not impressed with the 90s era classified section. The newspapers should be in bed with the advertisers both in print and online so that commodity ads have a unique URL like dallasnews.com/rudolphsmeatmarket which directs to listings of meat from which the consumer can purchase via the system. The newspaper would win in both that they can retain advertisers so long as they sell products and make money by selling more of their own services and taking a percentage of the direct sales from advertised products.

    Maybe I will start programming this tonight.

    Comment by Dan -

  90. Because nothing will help newspapers’ credibility like knowing they wanna sell me copies of the shit they just covered

    /rolls eyes

    Comment by thekingofcheap -

  91. The security hoops to jump through to satisfy PCI DSS are cost prohibitive for the newspaper. Niche business for someone else to “offer” as a service to the newspaper, but they can’t seem to handle existing costs.

    You want me to get an added value from my newspaper? Online box scores. But, that is a more expensive license from the AP.

    Comment by Pat -

  92. Mark, you’re right, but their website…is not good. I prefer LA Times website to get my news. Dallas News, maybe whole Belo company needs to update their business. Thanks for interesting blog.

    Comment by vns -

  93. @Mrslappy,

    Dude, if you think Mark Cuban “lucked” his wealth, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Pool all of our money, divide it equally between us all to do with as we please, and when it’s all said and done, MC will have a hell of a lot more of it than you and me.

    Great post Mark. Beats the hell out of the cue-cat. Now that was a guy that lucked into his money. 😉

    Comment by whackedupside -

  94. WOW, this is brilliant! Newspapers are hurting now, BIG TIME, and it’s apparent that they are just because they haven’t begun to think outside the box (or the paper,as it may be).
    Businesses that don’t change with the times will die, and many already have, or are terminally ill! I am a Real Estate agent in Idaho, and the only reason that I have survived the housing downturn it that I have used the internet. Hundreds in my area have not because they are trying to do business in the same old way.
    I will have to think about how I can put this concept to use in my business.
    Thanks for your posts~They’re spot on!!!
    Pam Pugmire~Idaho Real Estate

    Comment by Pam Pugmire~Idaho Real Estate -

  95. Hi Mark,

    I get the local Riverside Ca paper, but my wife likes the ads in the Sunday LA Times, so when an invite at a special price came in the mail I was going to get it for her.

    First I went to the Times website and it wouldn’t take the special price code, I was bummed so I called the 800 number at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon and lo and behold I had Roger on the line over in India. I explained what I wanted and he was so helpless after about 30 minutes of repeating myself and him putting me on hold I gave up.

    That was it, no Times for me, until my wife came home and said, why don’t you just mail them a check. I did and I now get the Sunday Times and see a doctor twice a week for Post Traumatic Stress.

    Love your posts.

    Comment by Jeff Lilley -

  96. and bill monthly with an itemized email receipt. Do not bill per transaction.

    Comment by dan -

  97. Holy Fuck. A guy who lucked his way into billions during the tulip…I mean internet craze of the late 90s is complaining about tipping the newspaper delivery guy? First, this is a made up story. There is no way you get a physical newspaper delivered. Second, your so-called advice is retarded. No one is going to pay their newspaper for those sorts of things. Third, please punch yourself in the face repeatedly until you realize what a charmed life you leave.

    Comment by mrslappy -

  98. newspapers… finally a post i can understand!!!! as opposed to marginal cost of bandwidth, last mile of digital delvery , etc etc…
    go mavs..
    go celtics..

    Comment by joe raczek -

  99. So every advert (classifieds + corporate?) would a “purhase code” and every buyer + advertiser would have an account with the newspaper and their CC details ready to rock’n’roll? The newspaper takes a cut and stays in business for the next decade or two?

    Comment by Dr Nic -

Comments are closed.