Newspaper crisis finally reaches home

El Nuevo Dia axes Orlando editionLast week El Nuevo Dia announced that they would be closing the El Nuevo Dia Orlando satellite edition on August 29th. Citing difficulties from poor ad sales due to the economic slowdown, the newspaper was Central Florida's only Spanish-language daily. The closing will impact 49 employees which will be conducting layoffs through November.

Until last week, I thought of news like this as merely reality catching up with the growing impact of the Internet. Sure, many people agree, with tongue in cheek, that the Internet changes everything, but I guess it depends on where your standing. I bet if you ask the employees of El Nuevo Dia Orlando, maybe some would recognize the impact of the Internet on their situation, and others would just say it's the economy. I'd wager it's a little bit of both.

I'm now looking at the newspaper crisis in a little different light. Browsing through Borders last Friday I came across "the cult of the amateur" by Andrew Keen. I read the introduction and the first chapter just to see what Keen had to say. While I think he goes astray in blaming the failing record and film industries on illegal downloads, his opinion on amateur content is thought provoking.

Keen claims that a sea of amateur content threatens to swamp the most vital information and how blogs often reinforce one's own views rather than expand horizons. In addition, he blames amateurs for the contracting journalism industry. While he points to Wikipedia as a perfect example, I think he's wrong about the volunteer encyclopia. I'm not sure he did the proper research into Wikipedia to understand the safeguards they have in place to weed out crap quickly. Keen points out,

What the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment. The information business is being transformed by the Internet into the sheer noise of a hundred million bloggers all simultaneously talking about themselves.

Why the change of heart? Well, to be honest, after the beating I took last week, my confidence is a little shaken. With that token of doubt, I guess I gave Keen's arguments a chance, and to my surprise, some of them made sense. Keen claims,
...the radically new business models based on user-generated material suck the economic value out of traditional media and cultural content.
So I wonder, is Keen right? Is the explosion of crappy blogs and video on the Internet responsible for El Nuevo Dia closing the Orlando edition?

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11 comments:

MC Don Dees

19 de agosto de 2008, 08:33
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dijo...

Oops, I forget to add this...

Clarisel asked if I've heard anything about the San Juan Star closing.

Nope, I haven;t seen anything, although the last few times I picked one up there weren't too many ads, so it wouldn't surprise me. I do know, however, that the owner is looking to sell, and has been for a long time. But there's also a rumor that El Nuevo Dia is on the block as well.

Luis Benitez

19 de agosto de 2008, 10:27
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dijo...

Hi Mc,

I recently posted a very similar question on my blog.

In it I talked about eLearning and how it seemed like social software, through all the user-generated content, had killed eLearning.

I was "convinced" by the comments that both eLearning and social software have their own niche, and while social software may be better at informal training, eLearning would be better at formal training. However, if eLearning doesn't adopt social software and the rest of the web 2.0 concepts, it suffers a risk of disappearing.

I believe the same may apply to traditional media and online media. The NYTimes at one point was about to close, but it wasn't until they embraced the web that they were able to survive. I don't know if El Nuevo Día Orlando had an online presence or not. If it did, my guess is that it wasn't a good one (perhaps no feed syndication? no dynamic content? no user-generated content/comments?). If it didn't, that would probably explain why it couldn't survive.

I would love to see what others think.. I would be really really scared if the consensus is that the majority of users are getting their news from blogs rather than online news sites!!

Luis Benitez

19 de agosto de 2008, 12:04
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dijo...

Oh.. I just read in today's Star that it is not for sale and that they will "soon" have an online presence. Their website is currently in beta testing..

My guess is that they had to adopt online technologies to get more ad revenue...

MC Don Dees

19 de agosto de 2008, 12:08
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dijo...

Luis, great comment, thanks.

It never ceases to amaze me how divisive we are as a species, oh and alarmist too. I think it's always useful to remember that things are never as good (or as bad) as they seem, and that absolutes don't exist.

As technologist we must allow the unique needs of each and every problem guide how to solve it. There is no silver bullet.

I would agree with you about people using any one source for their news or education. Very dangerous. That is except if it is 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart!'

Clarisel

19 de agosto de 2008, 15:31
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dijo...

There have always been rumors about the San Juan Star closing.

I see those rumors continue and are getting louder:

Here's a link to a story

http://www.topix.com/forum/world/puerto-rico/TCIEP518T613JKNHN

I think it was in SuperXclusivo that there was a report that the San Juan Star building was up for sale.

Luis Benitez

19 de agosto de 2008, 15:47
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dijo...

Clarisel,

Today's article in the Star does say that they are looking to move to another location and perhaps lease/sell their existing lot which appraised at $12 million! So that part of the "rumor" is true.. :)

Gil C. Schmidt

19 de agosto de 2008, 21:25
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dijo...

Folks, for almost a year now, I've had it from an EXCELLENT source that END is not only for sale, but that part of the "takeover" deal is already in place. (Think "Chile.") The sticking point? The final asking price is WAY over the actual perceived value. The strife at the upper levels of the paper is aggressive and acute, and ad revenues are not only down, but circulation numbers are being "enhanced" by surrepitious buy-backs (END "buys back" its own papers to pretend it has a higher circulation.)

As for the SJStar, the shrinkage MAY have been due to a union-busting effort and that now that the paper has been pared down to a "lean" staff,the resurgence is underway. The big need now is cash, because the multi-layered corporate network (includes Vea and TVGuía) is very cash-poor.

My larger concern? Our media sucks like a ginormous whirlpool of sucky suckitude. There doesn't seem to be one competent journalist in Our media, someone who'd echo Cronkite, Sevaried or Murrow. What We have are blowhards, punks, wimps, gossip-mongers, lunatics and cretins.

And OPPOSITE of all that: Luis, I just added your blog to My Daily Reads.

Golem

20 de agosto de 2008, 12:59
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dijo...

Hey guys...you have forgot about the online version of Caribbean Business. I think they launched it a month ago or so. The URL is www.caribbeanbusinesspr.com I think the Casiano company is at least realizing that an online version was needed.

Love the blog. You are rigth about the ad agencies tigth grip over their clients media budget and their in (voluntary) blindness about any "alternative" media that steer them away for the $$tv $$radio $$outdoor media placement

MC Don Dees

21 de agosto de 2008, 18:04
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dijo...

Just wanted to thank everyone for the input. BTW, I saw a copy of the San Juan Star yesterday. It was only 32 pages.

As far as Caribbean Business ONline, I've been meaning to weigh in on that for a few weeks now. So hopefully I'll get to it soon.

Karma

22 de agosto de 2008, 16:10
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dijo...

Just want to chime in and say that I appreciate that you are now more open to the idea that perhaps, you might have had been a little off with your rant on the whole BPPR issue. Sometimes the cloud can fog up your eyes and some people don't realize that, in the end, it's a bunch of people talking about themselves and the facts get lost within. Keen's words, not mine.

Luis Benitez

30 de agosto de 2008, 09:07
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dijo...

Wapa.tv announced yesterday that the San Juan Star has officially closed!!!

http://wapa.tv/noticias.php?nid=20080829223806

Wow.. guess I have to subscribe to another paper.. Primera Hora ??