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Newspapers Build Digital Portfolios - Ad Age. A prejudice (and a prayer) for the power of the newsroom. Off the news ticker this week: McClatchy and a number of other newspaper companies recently surprised and pleased Wall Street with first quarter earnings reports far better than predicted.

A prejudice (and a prayer) for the power of the newsroom

One analyst (who’s invested in newspaper stocks) predicts that cost-cutting at the papers has taken hold just as the economy bottoms out, meaning that even modest improvement could mean “spectacular earnings growth” for several quarters. By no coincidence at all, newspaper stocks – languishing in the cellar – rose dramatically. Their levels are still at or near historic lows, but after a long, steady plunge many are climbing again. All of this relies on the economy getting better – people selling cars and houses, placing help-wanted ads, advertising clothing sales – and news on that front also brings tentative signs of improvement. So it’s all good, right? Well, no. At least I’m consistent.

Of course I am deeply prejudiced on this subject. The Nichepaper and the Failure of the Fourth Estate - Umair Haqu. By Umair Haque | 9:53 AM July 30, 2009 Thanks to everyone who responded to or commented on my Nichepaper Manifesto.

The Nichepaper and the Failure of the Fourth Estate - Umair Haqu

The caliber of comments and responses was awesome. Let’s dig into one of the key themes — profitability. Here’s the simple part of the profit picture, which explains a small amount of profitability. The Nichepaper Manifesto is about the sources of value creation in news — not business models. Where will profitability come from? Here’s the more complex part of the profit picture, which explains the lion’s share of profitability.There is relatively little profitability left in the economy outside the financial sector. Yet, almost no one protected the public interest. Where was the fourth estate when our political, economic, and social institutions were being systematically dismantled? If newspapers had protected the public interest like they were meant to, they would be more profitable.

The Fourth Estate is something I care about deeply. The Year The Newspaper Died. Introducing Real-Time Ads. Advertising, of course, is a revenue source for media.

Introducing Real-Time Ads

But advertising can also be a form of interesting content in its own right. Think of the Super Bowl, where the ads have often been more entertaining than the game. Or Classifieds in newspapers -- Have you ever checked out employment advertising just to see what jobs are out there, or real estate ads because you’re curious what’s for sale in your neighborhood? That’s why I’m excited that today we’re venturing into a new kind of online advertising, Real-Time Ads. Very simply, our goal is to create a fast-paced marketplace, full of advertisers’ messages that are newly posted and thus up-to-date, so that readers will want to keep coming back to check out what’s happening. Imagine a restaurant that can post its daily lunch special in the morning and then its dinner special in the afternoon. No, Newspapers Don’t Need A License To Collude To Survive. At the end of May, I was enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon reading my paper, trying not to think about work, when I came across Tim Rutten’s column, “How the Obama administration can save newspapers.”

No, Newspapers Don’t Need A License To Collude To Survive

And I sighed, because apparently newspapers need a license to collude to solve their “search engine” problem. If they can’t all agree to block Google & Gang unless paid a pre-determined price, we’re going to lose them. I could have dived in and done yet another dissection of things I disagreed with, but I figured what the heck. I’ll write to Tim and see if I can get a conversation going.

It’s been over a week and counting. Hi Tim– I’ve been covering the search engine space for the past 13 years. You’d written: “The problem is that newspapers can’t begin charging for online content or licensing their journalism to search engines unless all the English-speaking papers do it at once. This seems to be the heart of your argument.