Two New Animals: Newsosaur and Yahoosaur

October 22, 2008

Alan D. Mutter’s “Reflection of a Newsosaur” is a very good Web log post. You can find the Web log at and “Fat Newspaper Profits Are History” here. Mr. Mutter points out that newspapers are going to have to live with declining profits. He cites a number of papers that have debt that adds to broader sector woes such as declines in sales and circulation. He does a solid job of explaining the interplay of certain cost factors for publishers. His analysis does not apply just to newspapers. Any book, magazine, or journal publisher cranking out hard copies faces the same set of problems. The data in this article are worth saving because he has done a better job of identifying key figures and metrics than some of the high-priced consultants hired to help traditional publishers adapt to today’s business realities. For me, the keystone comment in Mr. Mutter’s analysis was:

Although the economy will recover in the fullness of time, there are very real doubts about whether newspapers still have the time, resources and ingenuity to migrate to a viable new financial model to assure their long-term survival.

After reading this article, I realized that traditional publishers, not the author of the Web log, are Newsosaur. What also occurred to me was that Yahoo is becoming a high profile Yahoosaur. As a 15 year old Internet company, Yahoo’s management faces problems that its business model and management pool cannot easily resolve.

Keep in mind that newsosauri are trapped in the dead tree problem; that is, a fungible product in an environment where young people don’t buy newspapers or read them the way their parents and grandparents did. Advertisers want to be in front of eyeballs attached to people who will buy products and services.

Yahoo may be the first identified Yahoosaur. The company’s financial results and the layoffs are not good news. The deal with Google may be in jeopardy. Yahoo’s home run technology plays like the push to open source and BOSS may not have the traction to dig the company out of its ecological niche. I think the Yahoosaur and the Newsosaur are related.

Mr. Mutter provides a useful description of the traditional publishing company woes. Perhaps he will turn his attention to the Yahoosaur.

Stephen Arnold, October 22, 2008


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