The FT had an interesting piece on the newspaper industry on Saturday. There was “plenty of evidence to support the theory that newsprint will be finished in a generation”, wrote Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, from the “cash-strapped Boston Globe… carrying front page advertising” to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s ongoing slide to closure. Edgecliffe-Johnson also cited the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times slogging through the bankruptcy courts, and noted that “even Google gave up a two-year attempt to make money from newspaper advertising, which one analyst estimated would shrink by another $10bn by 2012.”
And yet, against this, the rich and powerful still seem to want to own newspapers: “Alexander Lebedev, the KGB spy-turned-tycoon, bought control of London’s Evening Standard a day after Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms magnate, had thrown a $250m lifeline to the New York Times. Alexander Pugachev, the son of a Russian oligarch, stepped in with a bid for France-Soir, a struggling French evening title.”
For the Edgecliffe-Johnson, this trend may yet emerge to be the salvation of the newspaper industry. As he puts it, “The crisis in newspapers has thrown up a novel opportunity for any would-be Citizen Kane: to burnish his reputation not by using his titles to sing his praises or settle scores but by being the non-interfering benefactor credited with saving a beloved news franchise from disaster.”
Are we about to witness the rise of the moral media mogul? It’s a nice thought, but we fear that the likes of Robert Maxwell (pictured) will always be with us.