On TeleRead founder David Rothman’s The Solomon Scandals blog, Rothman links to a love song to printed newspapers by journalist Danny Bloom, “I Just Can’t Live (Without My Daily Snailpaper)”. It’s a remarkable song, full of nostalgia about various newspapers and personalities associated with them. It definitely grows on you over its 6-minute length.
Bringing up the legend that Cortez ordered his ships burned upon arrival in the New World to make sure there would be no going back, Andreesen says that this is also his advice to old-media companies such as newspapers and magazines when it comes to trying to adapt to the Internet: shut down the print version altogether and focus all their efforts on the web.
“You gotta burn the boats,” he told me, “you gotta commit.” His point is that if traditional media companies don’t burn their own boats, somebody else will.
Andreesen observes that with the coming of the iPad, various print papers and magazines are coming out with “tablet versions” or looking into paywalls, while web publications such as TechCrunch itself are not. He notes that the audience size of the iPad, even if it sells millions of units, will still be dwarfed by the two billion people currently on the web.
Media companies simply don’t understand the new media, Andreesen says, whereas technology companies are used to dealing with constant change. He feels that attempting to preserve the old ways of business and charge for content is shortsighted.
He comes back to the simple fact that the open Web is where the users are. Talking about paywalls and paid apps is like saying, “We know where the market is and we are not going to go there.” Print newspapers and magazines will never get there, he argues, until they burn the boats and shut down their print operations. Yes, there are still a lot of people and money in those boats—billions of dollars in revenue in some cases. “At risk is 80% of revenues and headcount,” Andreessen acknowledges, “but shift happens.”
If that’s true, then sooner or later Danny Bloom and those like him will have to get used to doing without their daily snailpaper.