March 18, 2010 Last Updated 4:20 pm

Canadian marketer gives the newspaper industry a little good advice: explore new business models

After reading a few depressing columns this morning and reacting to them in this post, I read this column that appeared on The Gazette (Montreal) web site by Mitch Joel. Joel is a partner at Twist Image, a digital marketing agency, and his column, written as an outsider, seemed to offer better advice than what I’ve been reading lately from the insiders.

I wish I could post the whole column, but I recommend going to the Gazette site and read the whole piece — Joel is a far better writer than I am, that’s for sure.  But here is an excerpt:

The economic recession that reduced traditional mass media advertising, along with a newspaper’s many legacy systems which pre-date the Internet and mobile device era – unions, printing plants, trucks and people for distribution, leases, office space, etc. – makes things seem more dire and urgent.

The new business models that come into play also confuse the newspaper (and publishing) industry even further. There is no one single thing that is going to save the newspaper industry (like the Internet or the iPad). The Internet and free news on the Web are not the reasons that people are subscribing, reading or caring less for their local newspaper…

…Just last week, Le Devoir held a conference in Montreal on the future of independent media as that daily newspaper celebrates its centenary year. Writing out of the conference, The Gazette’s Jason Magder cited Torstar chairman John Honderich as saying that giving away content online has turned out to be a bad idea.

With all due respect to all of the traditional news outlets out there in the world, that’s simply not true. Free news online is a very viable business model, and there are many big media publishers making lots of money online offering free news (check out the Huffington Post, Mashable, TMZ, Media Bistro, the Daily Beast and many more).

Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image and the author of Six Pixels of Separation. The full column can be read on The Gazette web site.

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