Is John Paton the Savior Newspapers Have Been Looking For? … The new CEO of the MediaNews newspaper chain has pushed a "digital first" solution to the industry's woes … As the chief executive officer of Journal-Register Co., a chain of small newspapers located mostly in the northeastern U.S., John Paton has been pushing an aggressive "digital first" strategy ever since he took over the company in 2010. Now he will have a national stage on which to try to prove this is the solution to the painful disruption of the traditional industry: On Wednesday, Sept. 7, he was named the new CEO of MediaNews, the second-largest U.S. media chain with more than 150 papers across the U.S. – BusinessWeek
Dominant Social Theme: Newspapers will eventually make a transition to the Internet thanks to dynamic folks like John Paton.
Free-Market Analysis: For perhaps a decade, we've been pointing out that the Internet has disrupted the business-as-usual of the Anglosphere elites and considerably reduced the effect and efficacy of Money Power. We also predicted that the Internet would reduce the value of some 20th Century media to virtually zero, and that has happened as well.
It is interesting that this article on another "savior" of print media is carried by BusinessWeek, once the most dominant business magazine in the world. In the 2000s, BusinessWeek's business model failed entirely and the magazine that reached millions and virtually shaped the post-war consciousness of US middle-management nearly went out of business.
It was finally sold to Bloomberg – apparently for the proverbial dollar – leaving one agape at how quickly the most powerful publications can fade into irrelevancy and failure. The lesson learned from the BusinessWeek sale was that such publications are kept afloat as a means of propaganda rather than because they supply irreplaceable information.
Today, BusinessWeek is running – after a fashion – online at Bloomberg. Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg is now mayor of New York and worth billions. But most of Bloomberg's money comes from his sale of information terminals to Wall Street. He has thus funded a loss-making publishing enterprise by other means.
Why do people buy Bloomberg terminals? Bloomberg started out at the bond firm of Salomon Brothers but was fired from there and approached Merrill Lynch with the idea of starting a bureau to provide equity data via electronic information.
Merrill had no need for equity data but suggested that Bloomberg make use of its long bond data. This was a marketplace opportunity as Cantor Fitzgerald was providing price information on short-term bonds but no one was specializing in the longer terms – both corporate and Treasuries – or so the story goes.
Bloomberg agreed, and history was made. Traders soon needed access to Bloomberg terminals because the prices that Bloomberg was drawing from Merrill's trading desk were reportedly more accurate than the ones being disseminated by other means. Bloomberg prospered, according to this interpretation, because he had access to (legal) inside information provided to him via Merrill Lynch (which also had a 30 percent stake in Bloomberg for years).
What becomes clear when one examines the rise of Bloomberg is that his phenomenal wealth came from striking the right kind of deal with Merrill Lynch. America's most successful business publisher built his financial publishing company not on revenue from publishing but by having access to certain kinds of financial data that others did not have.
The fountain of cash that Bloomberg continues to harvest has made it possible for him to expand his business publishing empire. When no one else wanted BusinessWeek, Bloomberg was willing to step forward and acquire it.
This is quite in keeping with the way American publishing actually works. AOL, for instance, has been virtually bankrupt (or at least loss making) since its inception and yet AOL continues to function and has been bought and sold numerous times.
Why do publications like BusinessWeek, AOL and (another bankrupt publication: Newsweek) persist when others fall by the wayside? Because these publications are media mouthpieces for the Anglosphere elites, presenting a certain point of view that is important to the continued function of the one-world conspiracy that these families are promoting.
Of course, the salvation of these publications is not presented this way. These publications are presented as valuable contributors to civilized discourse but they are nothing of the kind. They are promotional devices, supporting the fear-based memes of the elite and then promoting globalist solutions as an antidote.
This is actually how the entire publishing industry functions – not just in America but around the world. All the great titles of the 20th Century were likely promotional programs. This is especially true of Western thought publications such as the New York Review of Books, the Economist and the New Yorker, just to name a few.
One reason the elites tend to salvage and reprocess well-known upscale titles is because of their prestige as so-called thought-leaders. The Anglosphere elites understand that the intelligentsia must be brought on board for their promotions to make headway.
Throughout the 20th Century they were very successful at doing this. Intellectuals aspired to be published in the great thought publications and willingly accepted the editorial perspectives that went along with publication. Occasionally, of course, the formula was not effective and people broke through into original thought. Ezra Pound, despite his anti-Semitism, is one such example.
The elites will do almost anything to salvage the mainstream publishing industry that they almost entirely control. The initial erection and penetration of the Internet was very obviously a mistake (though a predictable one) but ever since the scope of the disaster became apparent, the great families have seemingly been working industriously to repair the damage.
It is not enough to transfer information to the Internet. For the fakery to work correctly, these businesses must be seen to make money. This is why so many "saviors" have been announced in the past 20 years, who supposedly have bright ideas on how to bring print media back to solvency.
Paton is apparently the latest miracle worker, helping to coin the phrase "print dollars to digital dimes." Paton, Businessweek tells us, is a Canadian who "worked his way up through the editorial ranks at several newspaper chains before moving into management and acquisitions."
Throughout his career, we learn, Paton has preached that the newspaper industry needs to "stop listening to newspaper people." The new MediaNews CEO "has not been shy about telling the industry that it has been doing things all wrong for years—and that the print side, with all its entrenched management, has to yield power to those with experience on the Web." Here's some more from the article:
"Stop listening to newspaper people. We have had nearly 15 years to figure out the Web and as an industry we newspaper people are no good at it. No good at it at all. Want to get good at it? Then stop listening to the newspaper people and start listening to the rest of the world and put the digital people in charge – of everything."
In a blog post about his new job, Paton reiterated some of the common criticisms about a digital-first strategy, including the idea that "digital dimes" (a phrase popularized by Jeff Zucker of NBC) won't make up for the print dollars that newspapers give up by focusing on the Web instead of their legacy businesses. But the new MediaNews chief executive says he is convinced – based [on previous experience] – that this transition can work.
Says Paton: "We are supposed to be out of ideas, out of money, and out of energy. To our competitors, I say keep thinking that. It will make this transformation easier. At JRC we have blown up a lot of that received wisdom from newspaper critics. … Digital revenues can pay for newspaper newsrooms."
Time will tell whether Paton is correct or not, but the chances are he is still trying to apply the wrong paradigm to the modern (digital) publishing industry. In fact, many of the most successful Internet news sites are run by a handful of people. The scale necessary to produce news in the 21st Century is different than in the 20th.
The old men who run the world's most prominent central banking families don't understand this, of course, or perhaps they just don't want to accept it. The Anglosphere is all about promoting bigness. The bait-and-switch of central banking occurs in great, granite temples of commerce. Commercial banks and central banks are housed in gigantic buildings, the bigger the better.
The same promotion infects NATO's military and government itself. Real estate and big buildings are the currency of credibility. If something is housed in a large structure it is seen as reliable. For this reason, the old men at the top of the mainstream publishing pyramid want to retain the largeness of the enterprise even if it is not necessary. Again, the issue is one of propaganda not necessity.
And so Paton will continue his quixotic quest to replicate 20th Century journalism in the 21st Century. He will find it most challenging as the purse-strings have not been overly loose when it comes to digital advertising. The great families in our view have purposefully not migrated advertising dollars to the Internet because it is a medium they do not as yet control.
Thus, people like Paton are operating at a disadvantage. He must indeed support the largeness of mainstream media with dimes rather than dollars. Part of Paton's approach is rhetorical. He makes a distinction between digital publishing and newspaper publishing.
Of course, no one is born digital. The real differentiation is not between digital and print but between mainstream and alternative media. One of the reasons alternative media has been so successful in the 21st Century is because it seen as telling the truth while the mainstream media increasingly has a reputation for inaccuracy and overall fudging of facts.
The mainstream media is caught in a pincer composed of the Internet Reformation on the one hand and electronic elite-controlled publishing on the other. The truth-telling of the Internet is corrosive to mainstream media credibility; the low-cost structures of electronic publishing creates thousands of competitors that turn the deliberate information scarcity of the 20th Century into information plenty in the 21st.
One has no doubt that the elites and their promotional publishing mechanisms will eventually figure out how to transfer their sluggish business model to the Internet. But we recall it took something like 300 years for the elites to undo the damage caused to them by the Gutenberg Press. It will likely take at least another 50-75 years for Money Power to sufficiently control the Internet. But by then, something else may have come along.