The Conversation

Then Why Isn't There a National Center-Right Newspaper?

In response to The Internet and the Decline of the Post's News Monopoly:

I put that as if I'm challenging you, John.  I'm not.  I was taken with your statement--

 

Freed from the tether of a physical publication, newspaper's will become less dependent on their urban, left-leaning readers for support. The LA Times' online future, like that of the Washington Post, probably depends less on attitudes in LA and more on cultivating a mix of readers from around the country (and the rest of the English-speaking world). The progressive media market space is already pretty crowded. An increased awareness of what people living outside the big cities think about issues could help some of these papers diversify and, hopefully, survive.

That's quite an exciting idea. How can it be that the brothers Koch aren't entertaining the notion of putting their own national-brand newspaper together? Why be content to build upon the pile of failure that is the LA Times? What does the LA Times give you, except a brand name that many know and few trust?

I know corporate goodwill has a market price; does bad will cost a lot of money too?

It is true that people will tend to have a preference for their "local paper," even though, given cost-cutting and an increasing reliance on AP rewrites for news content, the "local paper" is largely an illusion already.

Imagine the appeal of a nationally-branded center-right newspaper. Not a journal of opinion; that market is well-satisfied. But an actual newspaper, an actually objective one that favors neither party and reports stories without agenda.

We wouldn't need such a thing to be biased in a conservative direction. Putting out the unvarnished truth -- actually covering stories like, say, Obama's lawless decision to suspend the law of ObamaCare -- would be a victory in itself.

That's where I think the breakthrough would be: Not in a paper that serves a particular audience, but which actually strives, consciously and vigilantly, to remain absolutely neutral.

Could such a paper, delivered entirely online, make it? Well, the average city has a population of, what, 300,000? If that? (Average, I say; and there are many more small cities like Duluth than mega-cities like New York.)  And of that, how many are potential subscribers?  100,000, at the very best?

If they can almost turn a profit, or at least not lose so much money as to be forced into bankruptcy tomorrow, why couldn't a national center-right (I say "center-right" but I actually just mean "not liberally biased") make it with a potential readership as high as 100 million?


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