The Pitch concludes: There is no business model

by Jason Preston on September 19, 2008

Last night was, in my book, an awesome success. Seventeen people showed up for The Pitch, and almost all of us had something to contribute to the conversation.

I tried to keep a running stream of tweets going for those of you who couldn’t make it, and I’m planning on sending out a full copy of the mp3 recording we made to the people on the Eat Sleep Publish e-mail list (which is different than getting e-mail when I post).

Andru Edwards kicked off the evening by pointing out that even if printing remains cheap, the generational shift in consumers is going to kill the dead-tree product in the long run, because the market is disappearing.

Kathy Gill chimed in second, noting (correctly, I think), that the convenience factor of paper is going to keep it around for a long, long time. Even products like the Kindle don’t let you split the Sunday paper into sections and share it with your family.

Next, Mónica Guzmán pointed out that it might not be worth the effort to try and find a business model that supports a print daily. She pointed out that most publishing operations that start online and never have a print product seem to be doing better than anyone who has a legacy print product.

Scott (I’d link if I had a URL) added that print is a dying medium primarily because the readers are leaving for another medium. Is it because of print itself, or is it because of what’s on the pages?

Danielle Morrill made an excellent point: online content has much greater value to the reader because there are links. It’s possible to follow a good story down a rabbit hole, finding more resources about the things that interest you without having to wade through irrelevant “noise.”

As the evening progressed, we found out that the viability of a newspaper’s print product is almost inextricably tied to the content that goes into that paper and the nature of journalism as it is changing. A print product is viable or not viable based on what’s on the page.

Everyone seemed to agree that printing things on paper, in some form or another, is a business that will stick around for a long time. But the fate of the daily print product, at least according to this group, is grim.

At the end of the evening I asked people to indicate, by show of hands, who thought that there was a business model that will support a print daily for the next 25 years. In other words: will there be print daily newspapers 25 years from now.

The verdict? 4 say yes, 13 say no.

To learn more about the future of publishing, or to find out when we’ll next host The Pitch, subscribe to the Eat Sleep Publish RSS feed, it’s Gratis!

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The Pitch: December 10th, 2008 — Eat Sleep Publish
11.10.08 at 9:11 am


1 Warren Sukernek 09.19.08 at 11:01 am

I agree, last night was an awesome success. A great discussion on a topic that apparently many diverse people care about. Imagine my surprise, when I got home and read this new Fast Company article from @scobleizer, (in print,btw) in which he makes some recommendations on how technology can help the industry’s survival,

Once again, a great night–I can’t wait until the next one!

2 Scott Robinson 09.19.08 at 11:45 am

Now you have a URL.

3 Jason Preston 09.19.08 at 3:36 pm

Warren – Thanks Warren – I’m glad you had a good time. I was glad to see you there!

That’s an interesting piece from Robert, and he’s 100% right that newspapers need to innovate and iterate the way companies do in the tech world. It reminds me of Scott Karp’s post (which, I swear I have that freaking exactly headline in my notes from a couple months ago as a post I planned to write) about how newspapers could learn from GM.

Scott – Thanks! It’s in the post now…

4 Danielle Morrill 09.19.08 at 3:40 pm

Hey Jason, I had a great time last night as well – I enjoyed the intensity of the conversation, there was never a quiet moment. Two small things: last name spelled “Morrill”, not “Morelli”. Also, I forgot to sign up for the email mailing list last night, but I really want to get a copy of the podcat – can I still do that?


5 Jason Preston 09.19.08 at 3:46 pm

Danielle – absolutely, I’ll put your e-mail on the list now.

You’re not going to believe this, but when I left my last comment and put Scott’s URL in the post (according to the timestamp: 3:36pm), I also edited the post to fix your last name, hoping that you hadn’t found it yet!

Anyways, it’s correct now, and sorry for the misspelling.

6 Kate Martin 09.22.08 at 4:37 pm


Sorry I couldn’t make it. First I was going to fly to visit my dad, then I had to move unexpectedly. In any case, that sounds like a discussion I would’ve loved to participate in. I’m catching up on my reading (five days away from the Internet and I have 300 posts on my Google reader, ugh). Please sign me up!


7 Jason Preston 09.22.08 at 5:03 pm

Kate – The gears are already turning to put together another event, so hopefully you’ll be able to make it to that one!

I know how Google Reader can pile up, I tend to just let things go unread after a certain point.

I’d love to put you on the e-mail list to get a free copy of the mp3 recording from The Pitch, but unfortunately I’m not sure that that’s what you’re asking me to do, and I’d rather not e-mail anyone who doesn’t want to be e-mailed.

If that’s what you’re after, just go to this link here, drop in your first name and e-mail address, and you’ll be good to go.

8 Curt M. 09.22.08 at 9:40 pm

Sorry I couldn’t be at this one. Looking forward to the next event.

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