Meyer imagines the established papers will combat the 6 percenters by counter-investing but not exclusively in newspapers. "How the information is moved—copper wire, cable, fiberglass, microwave, a boy on a bicycle—will not be nearly as important as the reputation of the creators of the content. Earning that reputation may require the creativity and the courage to try radical new techniques in the gathering, analysis, and presentation of news," he writes.
Which prompts this question about Anschutz's opening move: What explains his reliance on the antiquated analog technology of newsprint? Remember, he made his big fortune by laying 21st-century technology—fiber-optic cables pulsing with digital information—along the 19th-century railroad right-of-ways he owned. Likewise, in the movie-exhibition business, Anschutz has hoped to reap new economies by being among the first to deliver movies to theaters via fiber-optic cable and project them electronically.
As Anschutz builds his 6-percent-margin newspapers, he must realize that a business model already exists that delivers news and advertising more efficiently. Without looking like a shill for my bosses at the Washington Post Co., may I point to the washingtonpost.com and other online newspapers? No printing plants, no rolls of paper, and no delivery trucks—just a whole lot of computers and people. You don't suppose that the newsprint Examiners are stalking horses for a nationwide network of Examiner Web sites, do you? It's no crazier a business proposition than Ted Turner's 24-hour news channel was in 1980.
In the case of Slate, 99 percent of its value—reported to be $15 million to $20 million when the Washington Post Co. bought it from Microsoft in January—was goodwill. Slate's assets are limited to four dozen computers, a few printers and scanners, furniture, office supplies, 127 Slate baseball caps, and its archive of stories. What's your goodwill value? Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)
TODAY IN SLATE
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
I’m 25. I Have $250.03.
My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
- NSA Is Letting its Chief Technical Officer Work 20 Hours a Week for a Private Company
- After 13 Years of U.S. Occupation, Afghanistan Opium Production Is at an All-Time High
- The Pennsylvania Fugitive Sniper Is Still at Large After 39 Days
- Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years, May Only Serve Ten Months
Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?