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On The Mercury News Death Dance
As a new media journalist (aka blogger) myself I have been watching the spiraling down of this once great newspaper and wondering what we of great numbers and small individual market shares might be contributing to it.

If you follow the principles of The Long Tail you understand how great entities like metropolitan newspapers are struggling to stay alive against thousands of bloggers, Facebookers and YouTubers creating content all around them, competing for their precious reader’s attention while at the same time disintermediating the paper’s revenue stream (through things like Ebay, Craig’s List and even Google allowing sellers to connect with buyers in ways that a few short decades ago was impossible without advertising.)

As consumers of content also become producers of content (hence the term “prosumer”) each prosumer clamors and competes for their own audience attention. They don’t just compete with each other. Time does not expand to accommodate these new information sources. Something has to give.

Traditional mass media outlets (including newspapers) become like an elephant overcome by a sea of ants. How does a newspaper compete with a swarm, when the swarm is also their market? The time I used to spend fetching and reading “the paper” is now spent reading the blogs of friends, family members and the forum sites of my favorite hobbies. I do not even have to get off my couch to do this. (I am on my couch right now in fact!)

What is the point of all this? We have much more content available, and this content is free, mostly free of advertising and easy to get. This content is very compellingly targeted right at our favorite niches and scratches our itches. We can also free and easily produce content. It is so much fun we do this without being paid to do it. We can tap all this, do all that, but we still only have 24 hours in a day.

Newspapers cost money. Newspapers require us to make an effort to go get them. Newspapers have to create content that produces a revenue stream. Newspapers have to pay for people to produce and distribute their content. Most of the information in a given newspaper is not interesting to us. People who don’t “get” texting, Facebook, YouTube and the blogosphere will never “get” what is happening to traditional journalism. This is off their radar screen. It is not just blogging and the the blogosphere, it is a the superset of Internet distributed content I call the informationsphere.

Two new contributions to this informationshpere are some recent blog posts about the most recent layoffs at the San Jose Mercury News. These posts come from Ryan Sholin and Frances Dinkelspiel. Hopefully after reading these, then writing your own blog post, then texting a few friends, then checking YouTube, then checking Ebay, Craigs List and then updating your Facebook page then, maybe then, you will have time left to read a newspaper, any newspaper.

May 2020