Mitch Kapor says we should looks beyond the kerfuffle between Arrington and CNN, and yes let’s do that.
I wrote this 2 years ago and nothing has changed:
Why does this matter, especially coming from someone like me who has a gag reflex about the words “affirmative action” and repulsion at the idea that we, as a society, condone hiring or admittance, and promotion based on anything other than merit? It matters because we are not an economy that searches out natural resources like iron ore, timber, coal or natural ports and waterways to determine where we expand; we are an economy that depends upon businesses identifying clusters of talented human resources to solve problems that have economic value. If our solution is that a bunch of white men, young and middle aged predominately, are going to solve the bulk of problems from here on out, then we will neither be very good at it on a global scale nor efficient as a society in lifting earning power and real economic growth across the board.
Silicon Valley is good at a lot of things but one thing we are terrible at is being self-critical about the culture we have created. Zuckerberg was getting to this with his much quoted comments about Silicon Valley being too short term focused (I wrote about that in 2009 as well, ironically the post also centered on TechCrunch).
Mike is correct to assert that many U.S. and international newspapers are structurally impaired and should simply disband but the debate in newspapers has shifted away from print vs. digital to one focused on digital monetization. The data is what it is, newspaper websites continue to grow traffic by double digits yet the incremental increases, or more recently seen decreases, simply can’t cover the physical costs of the news gathering operation. Turns out that it’s no different in the blogosphere as well and TechCrunch’s conference revenue is not an exception, it’s the rule for all of the major professionally produce tech blog operations.
So what can those top 50 writers learn from Arrington’s business model? Well, they’d better enjoy throwing conferences. Arrington said only 10 to 20 percent of of TechCrunch’s revenue comes from normal advertising on the website, while 50 percent comes from conferences. (Yes, I know these parts don’t add up to 100 percent.)
[From Michael Arrington’s plan to save The New York Times: The best writers should quit | VentureBeat]
I wrote about the 100 year flood that newspapers are facing and my conclusion, which I believe still holds, is that newspapers have to abandon their category and create something new that combines hyperlocal information services, create new advertising units, aggressively pursue syndication, and move into video as a natural compliment to text.