Government Bailout of Newspapers is BS | DomainInvesting.com
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Government Bailout of Newspapers is BS

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I really enjoyed the Fool.com’s article that is critical of the potential government bailout of newspapers. Because of my geodomain holdings, I’ve been keeping tabs on the state of the newspaper industry by reading as much as I can, and the article really sums up my feelings on any type of government assistance to newspaper companies.

In my opinion (and many others), the newspaper printing and delivery model for news consumption DEAD, and the companies need to reorganize and change their strategies, without help from the government. Media and news delivery isn’t dead – just the way newspaper media companies deliver the news via print. By the time the “news” is printed, it’s old news that nobody wants to read unless they are stuck on a train or in a waiting room somewhere and their Ipod, Blackberry, or other device doesn’t have reception. (**Edit** or don’t have modern devices.)

Entrepreneurial journalists such as Ron Jackson and Andrew Allemann (in the domain industry) are proving that the interactive model of news delivery is where it’s at, and if you look around their site (and mine, too), you will see that advertisers are still paying for placement, showing that there is a way to make money online, as papers like the NY Times hasn’t figured out. I suppose when you have HUGE overhead expenses, it can be difficult to make it viable, but that’s their problem, not our government’s problem (and my problem since I pay lots of taxes).

People aren’t sacrificing knowledge simply because they don’t receive a print edition of a newspaper – they are getting the news from many sources online, instantly – as the news actually unfolds, and they don’t need the NY Times or another newspaper to tell them about breaking news.

Just because a particular business model is outdated does not justify the government’s involvement in a handout. There are plenty of ways to make money in the journalism space, and the newspaper companies are either not smart enough to figure it out, or they have too much overhead to make it work, or maybe there is a reason I missed. With any of these options, I don’t see how a bailout is going to help in the long run, other than giving people working in obsolete jobs a few months of pay before the government handout is gone.

I am very sorry for all the people who are responsible for printing the papers, delivering the papers, monitoring the staff of printers…etc. Unfortunately for them, their business model is no longer viable. I would be significantly annoyed that the government might try and help my competitors who are using a business model that doesn’t work any longer.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (75)

    Reece Berg

    Have to agree with you Elliot.. Old media had every opportunity in the world to get online years ago and unlike many domainers, it’s not like they had any money issues (back then). As I’ve gotten more use to using the features that are out there on the web such as RSS aggregators, I’ve found that most of what would have interested me in the papers I’ve already read. Why wait until the next day for the newspaper to report on sports scores when that’ll be available within minutes on some websites?

    Everything is slowly shifting online, every year more than the one preceding it. If old media doesn’t wake up, they’ll be soon forgotten in this 21st century.

    May 20th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    dcmike77

    I’m very disappointed in your thinking here Elliot. It seems like you’ve jumped on the bandwagon without thinking for yourself.

    For one, newspapers are not intended for breaking news. That’s what their web counterparts are for. Newspaper are for confirmation, deep analysis, in-sight, and checks-and-balance on the breaknews that happended. The print vehicle is as viable as consumer magazines at pennies of the cost (even for weekly magazines)

    I bet you’re the same person that screamed the TV commericals are doomed when the TIVO came out. Yes, circulation is declining, but for some perspective, the LATimes reaches more people EVERYDAY in LA than American Idol (go ahead check Scarborough and Nielsen – the readership for newspapers is higher relative to their TV HH reach in the market).

    I’m beginning to dislike your blog because of these types of comments and your constant over-selling of your involvment in “geo domains” (you own like 3 and your top Burbank.com makes a pale $1500 per mo.) and your bragging of your work-life balance.

    Please stick with what you know best, being honest and helping the small guy succeed, not making comments without doing any research. Crappy blogs are another reason why media companies (including newspapers) are so important

    -Mike

    PS I work at the LATimes

    May 20th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

      Elliot

      @DCMike

      I am sorry that you dislike my blog – you are entitled to your opinion, as am I. I write about what I know best, and that happens to be buying and selling domain names and building out geodomain names, so if that isn’t of interest, it’s probably best that you spend your time elsewhere.

      I am about confused about your comment “constant over-selling of your involvment in “geo domains” (you own like 3 and your top Burbank.com makes a pale $1500 per mo.)” 1) What I make has no bearing on you, 2) I am heavily involved in the Geo Domain industry including the Associated Cities transitional board 3) Yeah, I do own 3 city .com domain names, and Burbank.com happens to get more online traffic than one of its big newspaper competitors – which is actually owned by… your company (stats according to compete.com).

      Anyhow, as a taxpayer, I don’t want my money to be used to bail out the newspaper industry, in the same way that I don’t want my money to be used to bail out the auto industry.

      It’s great that you guys reach more people and have more eyeballs, but it’s about converting eyeballs to dollars. I could spend thousands of dollars a month on Adwords to get people to my blog, but I don’t because I would lose money. I would also lose money if I went ahead and hired 5 employees and got an office building, so I work on a tight budget with low overhead.

      Would you subscribe to a newspaper if you didn’t work for one? I don’t subscribe to one, and when I walk my dog in the morning, there are only 3 newspapers outside the doors of the 20+ apartments on the floor of my building – one of which is my neighbor who subscribes to a weekly Greek newspaper. I don’t see the business model working, and I don’t think the government should give money to the newspaper industry. If things are so great (because of the # of people you’re reaching), why would you guys even need a government bailout? Aren’t there investors who would see this vision and make a huge investment?

      Come on… Should the government bail out the record companies too?

      May 20th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    James

    @dcmike77

    I for one enjoy reading the newspaper even though I still get almost all of my news online via the wsj.com and other places.

    While newspapers are important they still should not be given preferential treatment over any other type of business or business model in the form of a handout.

    Unfortunately, it’s no one’s fault but the newspapers themselves if they continue to use a business model that has obvious and proven sustainability problems.

    May 20th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Elliot

    BTW – I’m not “bragging” about my work life balance. I guarantee I would more hours than 90% of the people I know including my peers. I am up at 7:30am working and go to bed at 12:30am with most of my focus on different aspects of my business.

    I love what I do though… and if that pisses you off, that’s your issue rather than mine.

    Ok.. fine… I will brag for a minute… I need to take a break from my computer for a half hour. If you need me, I will be walking in Central Park with my dog… 81 degrees and sunny!! :)

    Blackberry on of course.

    May 20th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Jess

    Frankly, I don’t want my tax money spent to bailing out the newspapers either. Why throw good money at an archaic model? Journalism is not obsolete. Newspapers and circulation are.

    May 20th, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Fred Mercaldo

    Regarding this subject…numerous large daily newspapers are in bankruptcy. Why? Because the model no longer works. I think they do a great job…but the expenses are too high versus the revenue they receive…it’s that simple. A local Scottsdale restaurant just closed, and the chef-owner sent an email to all his loyal customers talking about his decision to close and how devastating it has been…now this chef-owner in particular worked extremely hard on his dream…but in the end, it failed and he was forced to close. Does not mean he is a bad person….no…same as the newspapers…it’s just that it doesn’t work. Do I believe the city.com models will eventually replace newspapers? No, I don’t…although I do believe our model and business will continue to grow greatly each year. But I do know that home delivery of newspapers on a daily basis will soon cease…and whether the news is delivered thru Kindles or whatever, we still need the reporters and columnists…but it will no longer be in daily delivered print. dcmike77 states “print vehicle is viable etc.” Mike…you are wrong.

    May 20th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Elliot

    Back from my (contemplative) walk in the park…

    I want to add that I believe I am still a rookie geodomainer, but I admire the groups making the good $$$ and do what I can to emulate them and adapt some of their techniques to my sites. I have a long way to go until I consider myself a success in this industry, but I am working as hard as anyone to be successful.

    May 20th, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    dcmike77

    Elliot,

    As always you have a grace about you in your responses that is undeniably intelligent.

    I definitely don’t agree with a bailout, but I’m sure some lawyer at Tribune corporate is fighting for it just because they can.

    For more perspective, for every $1 we earn in online ad sales, we earn $10+ in print and that ratio seems to be holding steady. Advertisers are still seeing greater reader engagement and conversions in print. The circulation may be declining, but so is network TV, and radio, and consumer magazines (big time!) all because of the internet, but they don’t get picked on the most because newspapers are simply the oldest representation of old media.

    I, for one though, would like to see users pay for our online product (similar to WSJ), especially for exclusive news you can’t get elsewhere.

    As always, I’ll continue reading your blog just because it’s the best of all of them on domaining (there are a TON of crappy ones).

    -Mike

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:05 pm

      Elliot

      @Mike

      Thanks for the compliment. Like I said, I work a lot of hours, but I enjoy what I do.

      Maybe the ad revenue is still consistent, but costs are going way up as is interest on the debt. IMO, the cost of printing and delivery is what’s killing the newspapers. Radio, TV, and Internet all had fixed costs, but those are incremental because their overhead is much lower. Delivery and printing are daily costs for newspapers, which continue to grow while revenues either flatline (optimistic) or decline.

      BTW, if you’re in LA and want some extra cash, I am looking to hire a part time sales guy in Burbank :)

      May 20th, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Warren

    @dcmike77-
    Where in the hell do you get off criticizing entrepreneurs whose revenue model is on the upswing, when your own industry can’t stay afloat without government handouts?

    Rather than throwing stones from your ivory tower, you might want to take a look around you – you haven’t yet realized that your own house is on fire. But no doubt that you will figure that out pretty soon, as many of your bretheren have.

    Please check back with us a year from now and let us know how it’s going.

    Warren

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Adam

    DCMike. Way to go and make it personal. You lash on Elliot about stating his opinion but feel that yours is ok to put on HIS blog and feel you have no bias. total douchery (yea I made that word up just for you).

    Magazines are dying as fast as newspapers aren’t they or did I miss something? Show me 1 that has increased subscribers please. I love print. I still get a newspaper every day but fuck bailing the industry out. You make the bed you lie in and the papers that are failing screwed this up long ago. Why is it that everyone in this country feels
    that they are entitled to something?

    btw dcmike If you are beginning to dislike the blog then get the fuck out. Nobody is forcing you to read it. There I said it for Elliot. He’s too nice not to tell you his self

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Michael Carter

    unfortunately, subsidies/bailouts/etc occur in many areas of commerce – feds have opened pandora’s box – now everyone thinks s/he is entitled to govt funds (provided by, guess who, you and me) – remember the good old days when the multi-billion dollar enron fraud was a huge deal – that’s a rounding error in the current environment.

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Adam

    “for every $1 we earn in online ad sales, we earn $10+ in print and that ratio seems to be holding steady. Advertisers are still seeing greater reader engagement and conversions in print.”

    prove it.

    Also for every $10 dollar you earn on print you probably spent $50. . . I’ll take the online revenues thank you very much.

    The shift hasn’t entirely occurred yet either, there’s still a whole generation of babyboomers and some of their older kids reading the paper still but I can’t tell you a single one of my friends (and I’m 36) who reads a print newspaper. I talked to a local bank who says they still get a ton of responses for every ad they run with a new CD rate . . . want to guess the average age of the responders ? 70s . . . nah the newspaper isn’t a dying medium. Please find me 1 advertiser who uses the paper to target 18-25 or even 25-35 and is successful

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Alan

    Have to disagree with you 100% Elliot.

    We can argue all day long what you or I do not want our tax dollars paid on but it does not matter since no one will ever agree on this. Newspapers play an integral role in delivering news to both people who have access and those who do not. Not everyone has a cell phone, Blackberry or a computer. In addition, they employ thousands of people.

    Do I agree with a Bailout like that of the scums of wall street – no, since Wall Street created their own disaster – same with the car companies who could have created better products year after year but decided not to.

    The failing of newspapers is much more than management gone bad but an effect of a changing industry. A bailout may actually help these companies mature to the next generation of news.

    A world with Perez Hilton, amateur bloggers, you, me and other bloggers from home writing the news.

    No thanks.

    There is more at stake here than just your idea of the role of newspapers in todays media and if we are going to bail anyone out at least these guys have a chance of surviving.

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

      Elliot

      @Alan

      There are a number of professional journalists who write their own blogs. Those who are going to lose their jobs can also do the same and find their own sponsors and advertisers much like I do. You read the sources you trust and if you don’t trust a source you can compare it to other sources.

      What would a bailout do for these companies if they don’t change their delivery model? Wouldn’t bankruptcy reorganization be a better model to eliminate debt, rather than a bailout? That’s how the system was designed.

      May 20th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    James

    @Alan

    Awesome idea Alan! Let’s let the government bail out all of the newspapers so that the government ends up owning all of the newspapers just like they own AIG.

    Maybe the government could also help us out and just tell the newspapers what to print, who to hire, what to report on, and more!

    Awesome idea Alan! I can’t wait until the government controls the press!

    PS I especially like your idea of helping out the newspapers for making bad business decisions. That’s a touch of genius! Maybe we can even hope that the government can raise both of our taxes if we have worked hard and made some money. I would be honored to let the government take my money and give it to the newspapers so that they can continue to f things up even more. After all, rewarding business competence is so old fashioned!

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Alan

    “bankruptcy reorganization be a better model to eliminate debt”

    Yes, and then they would screw many small businesses by settling debts – those small businesses who are having a hard enough time to survive as it is.

    “Those who are going to lose their jobs can also do the same and find their own sponsors and advertisers much like I do”

    Shit, 99% of domainers (as good as some are) cant get a single end user to advertise on thier sites with the exception of affiliate programs and adsense.

    Professional journalists are journalists not salespeople – cant just expect them to run an independent enterprise.

    I have no problem with a bailout like this – agree to disagree.

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      Elliot

      @Alan

      I’m not a sales person either, but companies want to advertise here because my readers spend money in a specific niche, and they want the eyeballs to see them. I bet most journalists who write interesting articles can make good money on their own, although it’s a scary proposition for some people.

      Yes – I do agree that some small businesses would be impacted, but that’s how the system is suppose to work. Bailouts are a new thing, and they shouldn’t be for every industry who is struggling.

      I also agree with others that when you mix the press with the gov’t you have major problems.

      May 20th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Warren

    @Alan

    The first amendment to the constitution protects the press, because it is seen to be the people’s last bastion of freedom from potentially oppressive governments.

    The LAST thing that our founding fathers envisioned is a press which was funded by the government – because of all the strings which that would create and the control which government would then have over the content.

    Not convinced? Take a look at what’s happening to the other companies which have been “saved” with bailouts – GM, Chrysler, AIG, etc. The CEO of GM was forced out by the government, and Obama himself forced Chrysler to cut its advertising by one half. Do you really want government (any government!) to have these kinds of strings on our news media?

    I, for one, don’t want a media which is controlled by the government. Ask the readers of state-owned newspapers like Pravda about that.

    Warren

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Alan

    James,

    This is why I have almost given up replying to stuff online.

    You did NOT read what I said.

    I did NOT say “I especially like your idea of helping out the newspapers for making bad business decisions”

    I said “The failing of newspapers is much more than management gone bad but an effect of a changing industry. A bailout may actually help these companies mature to the next generation of news”

    Whatever.

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Alan

    Warren,

    I’m very familar with this stuff – have spent a lot of time in Russia, Cuba and a few other places.

    A bailout can mean a loan – does not have to mean government ownership plus you really think FOX, NBC, CBS dont already have a government hand in what they say? We are a hell of lot more censored than many think.

    Next time a major event is on TV turn on FOX, then switch to BBC – entirely different reporting.

    Not saying government should own newspapers – just saying if we can loan them money then why not.

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    James

    @Alan

    “I did NOT say “I especially like your idea of helping out the newspapers for making bad business decisions”

    I said “The failing of newspapers is much more than management gone bad but an effect of a changing industry. A bailout may actually help these companies mature to the next generation of news” ”

    So… apparently in your opinion not making decisions to stay profitable when your industry changes is a good business decision and not a bad business decision… right…

    I’m guessing that maybe you work with DCmike at the LA Times but you probably write for the style or arts section?

    It’s ok, leave the business talk to those who understand it. :)

    May 20th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Alan

    James,

    If you want to simply an industry that employs 10’s of thousands people to a quote more suitable for the bailout of an ice cream shop owner

    “apparently in your opinion not making decisions to stay profitable when your industry changes is a good business decision and not a bad business decision”

    then I am more upset that people who think like this actually benefit from my tax dollars.

    This post will have entirely ZERO relevance on whether or not a bailout will be provided but merely opinions for those that want to continue to discuss who is right or wrong.

    and DCwho?

    Fact is I have a lot more interest in seeing newspapers collapse than you think but its not the right thing to do imo.

    I’ve stated my point so you know my opinion … goodbye.

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    dcmike77

    @Elliot

    [ “BTW, if you’re in LA and want some extra cash, I am looking to hire a part time sales guy in Burbank” ]

    Maybe there’s a content/ad parntership I can help you with at Burbank Leader. Shoot me an email at the address in this response if you’re interested.

    -Mike

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

      Elliot

      @Mike

      Thanks… I called Dan Evans a couple weeks ago out of the blue to open the door to discuss ways to work together. We didn’t discuss anything specific, but left the door opened.

      I actually messaged him on Facebook after reading about his hiring in March/April to encourage him to reserve the @burbankleader account at Twitter – which he did. We might be “competitors” in some ways, but I think we are more aligned than different, as I have no desire to report hard hitting news right now.

      I am reachable at elliot@burbank.com or info@burbank.com since some people spell my name wrong.

      May 20th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    JS

    Well said Alan. With the exception of a few pure geo domain sites, most only cater to tourism. The big $$$ group seem to be the sites booking hotel rooms or other tourist related activities. These might replace the local tourism group or chamber of commerce sites, but they are not filling the void of falling newspapers.

    If the entire newspaper industry turned off their lights tonight, we might miss them.

    Do I think print is basically dead, Yes, but I also realize that geo domains could be one killer iPhone app., or Garmin app., or site (Hotels.com) from being irrelevant.

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    David J Castello

    dcmike77:

    Allow me to give you a perspective from the other side of the fence.

    We began signing local advertisers to PalmSprings.com in 1998. It now generates over a million dollars a year in revenue. The local paper, The Desert Sun, has been in the area since 1927 and is owned by Gannett. Since 2003, The Desert Sun will not accept any advertisment with the word PalmSprings.com in it. We do not have a reverse policy because we believe it would be idiotic.

    The papers are losing money simply because they are not evolving and I have no intention in seeing my tax dollars used to prop up a competitor who wishes us ill.

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Gordon

    I don’t like the bailout, but I LOVE reading newspapers. I’ll take reading a newspaper on the train or on my couch with a cup of coffee any day of the week over reading it online, or on a kindle. (though I still want to be able to read it online)

    I hope they stick around….

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Mark

    Wow! Lively discussion.

    OK, my two cents.

    I think we all need to realize that there are millions of Americans who still read print newspapers everyday. The net is not everywhere in this country. Also, we shouldn’t discount the aged population. They have the money folks. The twenty-somethings have very little dough.

    Personally, I love reading BOTH print and online versions. A print version (such as the LA Times) is dynamic, easy to read, visceral, lots of cool pics, graphs and ads. Do I think it deserves a bailout? No way buddy. Earn your own or fold, is what I believe.

    However, I think we digerati get a little myopic in thinking online is the only way to consume media. An absolute stupid thought in my opinion.

    It’s unfortunate that several blogs in our cozy little industry seek to rag on print media.

    There really is room for all.

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

      Elliot

      @Mark

      I’m not “ragging on print media.” As an American taxpayer, I am expressing my opposition to seeing my tax dollars go to support the print media, when their business model doesn’t work (for the most part – there are exceptions of course).

      I don’t blame them for trying to get a handout – who wouldn’t? I am just using my blog as a platform to give my opinion, which is the American way, no?

      I agree that there is room for newspapers – and I like newspapers, too. I just don’t believe my government should support them financially.

      May 20th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    dcmike77

    @David & @Elliot

    David, I’m well versed in your efforts at PalmSprings.com, among many other geos. You are a domain king.

    The Desert Sun is making a mistake if there’s revenue potential involved. Today is much different now at Tribune though, I promise. What was once forbidden is a clean slate. We recognize that we’re no longer #1 online in Burbank or LA – the internet is – so we’re evolving (and quickly) but turning a huge ship around isn’t going to happen overnight.

    That said, Elliot needs to dream much bigger as burbank.com is not living up to it’s potential imo.

    Elliot, if you’re waiting for me to reach out to you for next steps, that’s probably not going to happen. LATimes has nearly $1B in revenue from various products and events so I’m a little busy, but if you’re serious I may suggest reaching out to someone other than the editorial staff.

    May 20th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

      Elliot

      @Mike

      I agree with you about the site not making as much money as it could/should/eventually will, but I am a one man show, so I am okay with leaving some money on the table when my other projects also need attention… Similar to what I’ve mentioned about my blog in the past., my geodomains are also a small % of my business’ revenues. They could be big, but keeping costs low is priority #1 for now while I still learn about what it takes to grow these into self-sustaining, very profitable businesses.

      I thought Dan was the man at the Leader as Publisher/Editor, no? A couple months ago, I called Liz (VP New Biz Director) at MediaNews Group since Lowell Sun is one of their papers, too. She called me, we spoke, and I haven’t heard from her since that initial conversation where I asked how we can work together. I have many more things to do than to go back and forth with them and chase them down.

      I know Lowell and Burbank only get around 25k unique visitors a month, but that’s pretty targeted traffic. There’s $0 in spend on advertising, and basically no overhead, except a small hosting bill and my personal time – which my domain investments cover. I suppose I am just biding my time as I grow the sites.

      Sure, I have big ideas/goals for my geodomains, but I also know the challenges in hiring someone local to sell advertising, and I haven’t had luck with that. I did find someone, but a week after he found out his sister was diagnosed with cancer.

      Anyhow, I continue to chug along and produce content on my site and reach out to local organizations to help them publicize events and activities. One of these days – sooner or later – these geo sites will grow into full businesses.

      May 20th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Steve M

    …and just who’s going to bail out the bailout?

    I’ll tell you who: Our kids…their kids…and their kids.

    Will they ever forgive us for what we’re doing to them with all this debt?

    When we’re all comfortable in our graves, their taxes in total will be taking 50-75% of their gross income.

    …and that’s what it will be: Gross Income.

    May 20th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Duane

    I have enough of all this bail out. Funny how all these companies made millions and profited over more than just one century.

    Now, after they have already sucked in all this money and still cant survive on there own? They want money which they don’t deserve because they simply done bad business?

    If you cant survive on your own, you need to shut down.

    Like David Castello said, these Newspapers where fighting the Internet.

    Sure they are pisst when someone comes up and says I own your city, so why not work a deal with me.

    Mostly the problem is, they are so stuck up and think, or thought they are “XYZ Company” and who are you? Why should I ( XYZ Company) want to go down to your level and work with Mr. Small Guy?

    That’s the real problem of all these ” Not getting it companies, City’s and Newspapers” !

    I talked to a guy which is a key account manager of a Fortune 500 Company. This Company operates world wide. I made him the offer to send him leads which accumulate to $ 1 million of contract deals per month. I also proved it and sent him free high quality leads for 10 days.

    He took the leads and probably set up 5 or 6 contracts. After the 10 days where over his reply to working with my company was “ Sorry, but we don’t work with outsourced platforms.

    Stuck up and not wanting to work with Mr. Small guy is going to kick many up there A_ _ !

    In these day’s? Size doesn’t count anymore, it’s the smarts and the profit.

    The time is here and now, either “They get it” or its time to get buried.

    May 20th, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Warren

    @dcmike77
    Wow, $1 billion in revenue and still in need of a bailout.
    I rest my case.

    Warren

    May 20th, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    M. Menius

    Why don’t we just dismantle capitalism completely? Total government subsidy of TV, radio, newspapers, the power company, the telephone company. Let ’em buy your groceries for you, your gasoline, your underwear.

    Anyone here who genuinely believes the newspapers are deserving of a bailout is foolish, self-serving, and short-sighted.

    @dcmike77 – I don’t know you, but you’re objectivity is lost right now … apparently as a result of being immersed in the newspaper industry and the massive coast to coast bankruptcies going on around you. It’s obviously an emotional situation seeing friends lose jobs, but attacking Elliot’s blog, or other geodomain investors, seems a low blow, and a misplacement of the anger you feel.

    dcmike77 – To echo something David Castello pointed out … which happened to be the most poignant post on this page ->References to PalmSprings.com being BLOCKED from newspaper ads at The Desert Sun (reread his post!). Local newspapers have exploited their monopoly for DECADES at the great expense of everyone else, and the papers will get what’s coming to them! That’s not directed to you personally at all.

    Newspapers have actively & callously crippled every media competitor they could. They will suffocate and undermine anyone. Newspapers organizations do not deserve one iota of sympathy or slack. They have shown themselves experts at exclusionary tactics. That’s the bed they made.

    Government bailout is a big fat NO! Compete in this world like everyone else. Welcome to the real America. Enough with the self-pity and empty justifications.

    May 20th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Alan

    Elliot,

    I was really hoping not to be back here :-)

    To get back to you statement

    “Those who are going to lose their jobs can also do the same and find their own sponsors and advertisers much like I do”

    A little elitist I have to say – fact is you admit that you even have a hard time JUST speaking with the right people and you have a property that has some value so its not going to work except for a lucky few.

    Not personal – but whatever your revenue is from burbank it is extremely pale (not even a fly on the wall) from revenues associated with newspaper advertising.

    Take David’s PalmBeach for example – you know I respect you guys and $1m from a website is a nice chunk of change but again, a fly on the wall of the ad industry.

    We will never see $50m or $100m in revenue from a geo domain OWNED by domainers imo.

    Will we see $50m from a geodomain – quite possibly but it will not be run by any of us that you can be sure.

    A bailout would provide resources to help newspapers evolve – as it these companies who generate the BILLIONS in revenue, understand the publishing industry (more than just ads and content feeds on a website), import millions into the local economy, employ hoards of people and have a product that CAN evolve. Unlike Ford and Chevrolet who could have produced better cars 20 years ago but CHOOSE not to – the net was forced upon the newspaper industry and as someone said above you can not expect an industry to change or evolve overnight so why not give them a shot?

    Domainers (with the exception of a truly limited few) will only ever see a small % of ad revenue online.

    Newspapers deserve a chance – as the alternative is not viable.

    A country with 500 banks instead of 5000 is.

    New York without the New York Times is well …. brooklyn.

    May 20th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

      Elliot

      @Alan
      Thanks for coming back :)

      I don’t have a problem finding advertisers for my blog, which was what I was referring to with my statement. I know the domain community more than the Burbank/Lowell communities, so it’s easier for me to find advertisers for this blog. I won’t reveal my revenue for the blog because it’s private, but it isn’t insignificant. The reason I used my blog’s advertising as an example is that a sports writer for the LA Times (for example) would know his potential advertisers as well as I know mine, so comparing my geo sites to a journalists’ niche isn’t as equitable as comparing my blog to journalists.

      I do have a problem with getting significant advertising on my geodomain names which I am not shy to admit. I think that’s because I don’t visit local businesses to sell advertising. I would also rather spend my time calling/emailing end users and domain investors to sell my domain names, where the profit tends to be much greater.

      I agree about the Burbank revenues being low when compared to newspapers, but the profit margin is much higher than newspapers because my overhead is so low. If I hired 10 sales people, my revenues would sky rocket, but I don’t know if I would be able to make a profit – I don’t know because I don’t have the experience – nor do I have a financial backer paying to let me experiment with this.

      Newspapers do deserve a chance. I love the NY Times and NY Post – read them both every single day. BUT, I wouldn’t/won’t pay to read them, and I don’t want my government supporting them with my tax dollars, simply because they haven’t evolved as quickly as the news distribution outlets have evolved.

      If their business models would be sustainable, they should be able to find private investors.

      May 20th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Warren

    @Alan
    Econ 101: the purpose of a business is not to earn revenue, it is to earn a profit. Revenue is irrelevent if you can’t contain your costs. And in this the newspapers have failed miserably.

    The New York Times lost $75 million – last QUARTER. That’s about $300 million annualized.

    Let me ask you this: would you rather have a “measley” $500k profit, or a $300 million loss? Would you rather have Elliot’s profit margin of nearly 100%, or would you rather have the NYT’s profit margin of -12%?

    I thought so.

    Warren

    May 20th, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    dcmike77

    @Elliot

    Ours Editorial staff are the backbone, naturally, however, they are not the business-end and much less interested in creating partnership and profits. That’s the driven by marketing, circulation, operations, etc.

    Editors care about writing [good] stories. So I don’t think you’re not speaking to the best person imo.

    May 20th, 2009 at 7:28 pm

      Elliot

      @Mike

      Wouldn’t Liz have been the top of the chain? If you can drop me the email address of an operations person, I will get in touch to open the door again.

      info@burbank.com

      May 20th, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Conor Neu

    There is absolutely still room for newspapers. Just not the same newspapers they used to be.

    If they cannot run a profitable company and are suffering under too much debt, they need to restructure somehow. Either they enter bankruptcy, restructure their debt and optimize your operations, OR close down the shop and let smaller, more efficient newspapers take their place.

    A government bailout to save jobs and maintain poor decision makers and archaic business models does not make any sense. Let capitalism run its course. The jobs will pop up in the next generation of news feeds and newspapers.

    It was bad enough when the newspapers were funded with excess debt from the banks over the last 10 years. Let’s not extend that poor decision by funding them with more debt from the taxpayer. The banks are failing because of lending too much. The taxpayer should not make the same mistake.

    May 20th, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Rob Sequin

    Elliot,

    I agree with you.

    The car companies should not have been bailed out. How’d that work out now that Chrysler is bankrupt and GM is just days away?

    If newspapers can’t adapt they go out of business.

    If the government subsidized all failing industries we’d still have buggy whip manufacturers.

    The government didn’t want to bail out the financial companies. They let Lehman go bankrupt. They had to bail them out TEMPORARILY in order to keep credit flowing and payments to be made to other financial companies around the world.

    SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.

    May 20th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Ed

    @everyone

    Some thoughts and

    The editorial staff could very well be the backbone of democracy or at least a pillar of it and that’s why news is censored.

    Content is and will remain king bottom line.

    Palm Springs & Burbank compare to the local yellow pages not the local news papers. With all do respect to all of you and as Alan said above, I respect you all, but Burbank.com & PalmSprings.com are directories based on very very good geo domains not disseminators of information, public relations and such.

    The FOOL article talks about Washington State newspaper. The main newspaper in Washington is ran by Hurst who is also on the board of Kliner Perkins who is also personally invested in many many internet companies along with companies that may even compete with his publishing company and/or may compliment them. He is also investing in a reader to compete with kindle

    I worked for a classifieds related internet start up back in 1998 and our main investors were the Washington Post, The Tribune and Gannett. I can’t really say they did not embrace the net, but it’s true that they made some mistakes. Running a technology department is very different from running a gigantic printing operation along with global editorial staff. It’s a big ship as mentioned above. It’s a giant ship in a dry dock, so good luck turning it without scratching it. Expect multiple collision courses ahead.

    I don’t want my tax dollars going into a News Paper Exec’s pocket, but between it going into the Federal Unemployment Insurance Fund or Bailing out a newspaper, I would choose bailout and I realize there are better options for the money.

    Macro Econ 101: The multiplier effect

    Poli Sci 101: Information is Power

    Any domainers here care to advertise Microsoft’s Tagging Technology on their domain site? I did not think so.

    May 20th, 2009 at 8:17 pm

      Elliot

      @Ed
      “Burbank.com & PalmSprings.com are directories based on very very good geo domains not disseminators of information, public relations and such.”

      I disagree to an extent, at least with Burbank (and Lowell), because there is a lot of original content on the sites – in addition to PR from local organizations. There is a directory, but that is more in the background than the primary focus of the site.

      They are not news sources yet… but they could be if I wish.

      May 20th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Ed

    @Elliot

    To be honest I don’t know your site very well and have not spent much time on it. My point is that it is not a newspaper, or news site and I firmly believe your model compares better to the local yellow pages vs. the local newspaper.

    BTW: I lived in the area for many many years and and know Burbank well.

    May 20th, 2009 at 8:33 pm

      Elliot

      @Ed

      Check out the left navigation of the home page as well as the links on the right under Burbank News. Much of it is original content – some of which is driven by news releases.

      May 20th, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    M. Menius

    @Ed – “Palm Springs & Burbank compare to the local yellow pages not the local news”

    Don’t put geodomains in a nifty little box. Things evolve. Today’s directory site is tomorrow’s new media empire. There is more going on than meets the eye in regard to city geodomains … which are expanding their boundaries and their business model. The collpase of traditional newspapers is but one step in a new evolution.

    May 20th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Alan

    M. Menius

    “The collapse of traditional newspapers is but one step in a new evolution”

    A little extreme – many said the radio was dead 20 years ago, then again when Satelittle radio came out.

    Last time I checked radio still works.

    argh … back again, gone now for good. I’m comfortable being in the minority here. Good luck to all and next time you are overseas looking for a copy of the USA today or International Tribune while having a cup of coffee be thankful that somewhere down the road an ounce of your tax dollars went to make that happen instead of saving the crack whore who has 7 kids and “deserves” a fair chance.

    Peace – love/hate/agree/disagree with you all.

    If we hang around here any longer Elliot may start charging rent so goodnight/goodmorning .. whatever it is wherever you are – Continue the battle without me!

    May 20th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Ed

    @Elliot

    Got it!

    Again, It’s a great domain, the city is of importance to the nation. The real estate market is doing relatively well, solid public education system, its own Board of Education, Police, Fire, Local Gov, clean, safe, low unemployment. houses from 400K-2M +, etc, full of small businesses. Maybe one to many strip malls but not overboard like Orange County. :)

    It’s an ambitious project and I wish you well with it. I’m sure you will gain the traction you’ve been looking for in Burbank.com and when it hits it will stay.

    It was fun reading and commenting today and I think you Elliot run one of the best Domain blogs because you are not a cheerleader like some other blogs. Further you share your thoughts and experiences with us which makes us come back to read and comment. I’m sure you will do the same with Burbank.com and it will be just as successful.

    May 20th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Ed

    @M. Menius

    DISCLAIMER
    I do not own a single nifty box and embrace everything and anything entrepreneurial with no biases whatsoever. The comments in my original post were intended and in the context of this blog posting only at this moment in time.

    May 20th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Warren

    Hey, I have an idea – anyone who feels that the newspapers should get a bailout should put their money where their mouth is, and give them one. Pick one (or many!) end them a large check, and feel good about the fact that you’re doing your civic duty and saving a dying industry. They DO accept checks.

    That way, it won’t be necessary for the rest of us, who disagree, to have our hard-earned income forcibly removed against our wishes.

    That’s what I call a win-win!

    Warren

    May 20th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Ben Wilks

    Elliot, I admire your diplomacy.

    I’m not even going to bother, apples and oranges. The smartest move a newspaper could ever make would be to cancel their print run and go online. Then they might show a little more respect for ‘market’.

    Fast forward 5 years some people in this thread sure are going to look silly.

    Who cares anyway, pack a 5 year plan and forget the ‘haters’, one day they will be calling and crawling. That’s for THEM to work out, the more domainers push them to learn, the more they stand back.

    May 20th, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Adam

    “Not everyone has a cell phone, Blackberry or a computer” Really? Read this study before ? http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg1713.cfm
    26% of the “American poor” have cell phones, 24% have computers but most importantly 97% of the american poor who don’t have those other things, do have cable tv. Isn’t that an adequate outlet for news? Additionally, how many of those who don’t have these things, don’t know how to read. . . You act as if people NEED the news. . . the news gets to people faster and more efficiently then ever before. Not more than 60 years ago we had to wait weeks to even hear what was going on overseas in the war. Now we sit and watch a war unfold. The beauty of American is how widely available news is even without a newspaper. . .so where’s that leave this argument ?

    “In addition, they employ thousands of people.” yes we should bail them out because they have ridiculous amounts of human capital and overheard that is not necessary in the modern world. Employing people for the sake of saving an industry that is changing and giving them jobs that aren’t going to be around as we progress and modernize the news distribution business is ridiculous. Saving jobs for the sake of saving jobs. ok sure.

    “The failing of newspapers is much more than management gone bad but an effect of a changing industry. A bailout may actually help these companies mature to the next generation of news. ”

    They haven’t seen the writing on the wall for the last decade ? Come on. Their declining revenue isn’t a new thing. They didn’t adapt and their product isn’t as relevant to many. Many of the newspaper “ivory tower boys” considered the internet a fad in the early days and they didn’t change their business models as their customers changed. That’s a failure on management. If you can’t change to the needs of your customers, then you fail.

    The idea that it’s the fault of “change”, rather than management is is more lunacy. Lets blame the water for sinking our ship as we sit their with a bucket in our hands not bailing it out or jumping in the ships that ARE staying afloat to keep ourselves alive.

    May 20th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    M. Menius

    @Alan – Just to clarify, I have an affinity for newspapers and the good element who work there. News staff who lost their jobs have upper management to blame -> exclusively (and for many reasons). As is typically the case, 1000’s of good employees suffer at the hands of a select few at the top … who mismanage and misdirect the company. Such is exactly the case with the major newspapers.

    And “A little extreme”. Alan, I don’t think so. Seriously, are you aware of the rapidly accumulating debt & the major metro papers that have literally already gone under? I mean complete bankruptcy, closed the doors. This isn’t a fad. It’s a pretty profound sea change in the future of the newspaper industry. Don’t know how else to put it. No need to exaggerate. It’s common knowledge. Google it.

    May 20th, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    borat

    My newspapers is Republic of The Kazakhstan . We have many great stories by our very politic leaders after they made bailouts.

    May 20th, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    David J Castello

    Three final notes about the current status of US city.coms vs Newspapers:

    1) Most us (including our PalmSprings.com) are working on getting newsfeeds/writers.

    2) I agree that it will be hard for one of us to gross $50 million a year (but not impossible).

    3) ALL of us would be willing to sit down with our local newspaper and discuss the possibility of working together or – gasp – merging, but I’ll give you all one big guess who still won’t consider it until it’s too late (and my definition of “too late” is that by the time they ask us we’ll be too far along to consider it).

    May 20th, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    heather H

    as a former employee of the latimes, i can tell you that “newspapers” are corporations with thinly disguised operations of printing presses attached. Somehow the people at the top leverage their way into boardrooms and they want to be responsible for lackluster journalism and hold the careers of real writers hostage. Then they decide to roll the dice with underlings jobs for fun and spin buzzwords until the outer layer drops out.

    When did this assumption take place that the US treasury burps dollars onto losing propositions?

    May 20th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Rick Silver

    Hum…annual revenue for a good site with city population of 1-2 million + and a local sales team selling featured listings in a multi category directory:

    Business Directory:
    50 Categories * 20 listings * 2K (avg) = 2 Million
    Various site, category or section Sponsorships = 1 Million
    Total 3 Million with a staff of 5-10.

    What about classified, jobs, banners, event or concert listings?

    If it ranks you will send big traffic to hotels, restaurants, even plumbers. They will all pay if sold to.

    Oh and I still love newspapers. read 2 per day. but when surveyed about daily media consumption I answered 15 min print, 15 hours online.

    May 21st, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Alberto

    While I agree online media will continue to grow, there is definatley a place for printed media:

    When I sit on the toilet in the morning, I don’t like doing it with a laptop, blackberry or kindle. I like a newspaper.

    When I’m in the passenger seat on a long drive up the eastern seaboard and it’s my wife’s turn to drive, I like a newspaper.

    Taking the bus to work …. newspaper.

    Working out on a Stair Stepper … Newspaper

    Sitting on an airplane .. Newspaper

    Staying at a hotel … USA Today rules!

    Lying in bed at the end of the day … Newspaper

    Or, when I’m simply tired of looking at a computer after working on one all day …. .Newspaper.

    While the younger generation (i’m in my mid 30’s) will prefer online, my generation and those older (baby boomers, etc.) will continue to read print.

    May 21st, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Domain Development

    Come on Elliot, newspapers are very useful.

    For example, I use them to start the fire in my fireplace in the winter time. Some times I use the yellow pages too!

    – Richard

    May 21st, 2009 at 7:10 am
    May 21st, 2009 at 7:41 am

    M. Menius

    Excellent article …

    “Many are talking about “hyperlocal” websites as the future of local news. But we’re not the future of local news. We’re the present.”

    May 21st, 2009 at 8:16 am

    JS

    @ Rick Silver – Honestly, have you ever booked a $2K business listing or multiple $2K listings?

    I know that is easy to type, but I also know it is hard to do.

    Shreveport.com, Any luck with a $2K price tag or selling ad space?

    Elliot, can you touch on your experiences with direct ad sales so far?

    Palm Springs has “MAJOR TOURISM” and expensive hotels so I assume advertisers could recouple the high advertising expense. But most businesses could never recoup the $2K they spend on a geo-domain listing. Therefore, it is a tough sell.

    Every site has potential, and the pure geo .com domain has the most potential for their given area, but I can’t stand when someone says 50 x 20 x $ = $$$$$$, like it is easy.

    May 21st, 2009 at 8:23 am

      Elliot

      @JS

      It’s not easy, but I think it’s possible – I have sold ad space on my geo sites. It all depends on traffic and reputation. The local phone book charges A LOT for advertising, and businesses have been questioning that. In many cases, it makes much more sense to advertise online on local sites than with big ads in the Yellow Pages.

      The blog post is really about not wanting the government to fund newspapers though :)

      May 21st, 2009 at 8:28 am

    JS

    I realize the post is about a newspaper bailout.

    But everyone seems to think going online-only is the master solution for these bad business models.

    Yet most of the people/companies that own geo-domains can barely make any money, unless there is “Tourism”.

    I like local news, and I do not see an easy solution.

    May 21st, 2009 at 9:44 am

    M. Menius

    This is a worthwhile read as well …

    charlotteobserver.com/136/story/721912.html

    May 21st, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Rick Silver

    @JS

    Selling listings at 2k a pop is NOT easy…but everybody on these pages pay and 80% renew.

    All Paying (10x2k)
    http://www.n49.ca/p/vaughan:482/banquethalls/banquet_halls/place

    Even more pay here (30×1.5k):
    gopro.ca/kitchens/contractors/toronto/canada//catalog.htm

    Note that they don’t come a knocking…they must be sold.

    May 21st, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Rick Silver

    Remember that we are after Yellow page money and online is cheap by comparison. Even plumbers are finally getting it & pulling out of the book.

    Does anybody still use the Yellow books….we asked some people on the street:

    May 21st, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Rick Silver

    Elliot,

    This has been a great discussion. Comments here are 5 times that of the original Fool article you reference.

    Not really off topic because the point is that there is money to be made online. The newspapers just have not tapped it yet as they are encumbered by old world thinking & baggage.

    If they could just figure it out & restructure, they wouldn’t need a bailout.

    May 21st, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    JS

    @Rick

    You have some serious quality generic “.ca” names. Good luck with your efforts.

    May 21st, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Adam

    Here’s a timely and perfect example of newspaper failure. . . I just got my subscription renewal in the mail. For my local paper the rate is $230 for 12 months. I get can get basic cable TV for nearly that price. My internet access is pretty much that same price. . . so what were we saying about newspapers providing an affordable version of the news ? ummm right. It’s not affordable. I’d actually say that the newspaper has now become a luxury item at that price point.

    The sad thing is that for the price I pay I’m not seeing ANYTHING additional as a benefit. The only benefit I see is a nostalgic connection to the paper and a tactile object I can tote along with me to the can. . . lucky for me (and my newspaper company) I can afford that luxury. . . most others in this day and age will trim that fat.

    Oh and I checked : LA Times delivered to a local LA address is roughly $150 annually.

    May 21st, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    jp

    First I must apologize because I havn’t read all the comments before responding. This one has gotten a little unweildy.

    Old media messed up. I can’t believe they gave the news away for free online, especially to google. Google could have afforded to pay to index those pages. Google would have alot less users if the news didn’t let them index all that content for free. Who’s laughing now right?

    Should we bail out old media? Why does any company deserve a bailout is beyond me. Nobody is there to bail me out. I say this sort of BS should be put on the ballot, let the people who pay for the bailout decide.

    And old media: start charging google. That should help tip the scales. Not much makes google sweat, but taking away their ability to index for free might do it. Google is worthless without its index.

    @Elliot, what if google had to pay you to index your site. Seems ridiculous right now, but if big players like old media start charging it won’t be hard for the rest of us to do the same.

    May 21st, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Adam

    try getting a grip with this article newsboys. . .

    “Why journalists deserve low pay
    The demise of the news business can be halted, but only if journalists commit to creating real value for consumers and become more involved in setting the course of their companies. ”

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0519/p09s02-coop.html

    May 24th, 2009 at 2:10 am

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