I said draw….
It turns out that they’re both in the same business.
Newspapers and local TV news stations.
They both go out into the community, find stories, process them and then distribute them back to the community, charging for the ads that accompany them.
For a long time, their paths barely crossed.
I say barely because TV stations generally started their day by opening the local paper to find out what stories to cover. But beyond that, not much.
All that is over.
All that is over because of the web.
Both papers and local TV news are gravitating to the web as a platform of distribution. And why not? For papers it means getting rid of presses, ink, printers, paper and all the costs associated with distribution. And it puts you in every home on the planet all the time pretty much for free. Kind of irresistable.
Ten years ago, it became clear that you could ‘publish’ a paper on the web. Around the same time, sites like Craigslist began to strip out classifieds. J-date began to strip out personals. Later places like Huffington began to strip out editorials! Papers were in the fight of their lives and they started to come to grips with it.
TV was smug. They never imagined that the web could one day carry TV shows and TV news.
So papers have a lead, in a way, in terms of dealing with this. And one of the ways that they are learning to deal with this is to incorporate video in their reporting. And why not? It’s not hard to do. It’s pretty compelling. And when the web carries video (as it does) any local newsgatherer would be remiss not carry video. So they’re moving there.
As they do, they suddenly find that they are fast becoming head-to-head competitors with local TV news.
Because now, local TV is just starting to come to grips with the web as a better platform for distribution as well. Infinite homes, 24.7, no cable, no transmission towers, VOD all the time. Non linear. It works.
And as both papers and TV move to the web, they begin to find themselves running into each other. In terms of stories. In terms of content. And in terms of advertisers.
In the end, probably only one will survive.
But which one?
Newspapers have some advantages: they are leaner and far better newsgathering machines. They put more reporters on the streets every day. They are better at making volume. Take a local TV newscast and print it out and you probably have a page and a half in the paper. The web demands reams of content, updated all the time.
Newspapers have some disadvantages: They are still married to the presses and the ink and the delivery vans. And they have to learn video.
But TV stations also have their own mixed bag. They know how to make video, but they do it in a very expensive and cost-ineffective way. Can they change? Unknown. Also, TV stations, as they migrate to the web will have to put many more reporters on the streets to compete with the local papers. Can they do it? Unknown. Finally, as they move to the web, local TV stations will have to provide reams of text, as the web does both text and video. Do they have the writing skills? Not yet.
It’s gonna be a hard fought battle. Newspapers are not about roll over and die so fast. They have a pretty long tradition in this country. And there is a lot at stake – local news is always a money maker, and the local stories and the local advertisers are aplenty, with money to spend.
I would not count the papers out yet. As Gary Cooper says:
‘You’ll never hang me. I’ll come back. I’ll kill you, Will Kane. I swear it, I’ll kill you.’