Advertise to survive, part II

Tomorrow's Business

Some say yesterday’s missive was a bit downbeat. Well pardon me.

Anyway, today I’ve got a plan for how the entire flak and hack world thrives and survives. How both industries become not just sustainable, but profitable.

We do have to get past this flu thing first.

After that, here’s what we do: All print editions of newspapers go free. This isn’t that original an idea, indeed I know it has been discussed at the very top of many big papers, they just haven’t been able to make the maths work.

What the industry has to do is co-operate.

So The Guardian concedes that it doesn’t sell (m)any copies in Sunderland anyway and leaves that city to The Sun. That’s rough on the three Guardian readers in Sunderland, but they can always move.

The Standard gets inner and outer London. The FT gets the Square Mile and Canary Wharf. And Surrey.

The Telegraph gets Tunbridge Wells, obviously. The Times and the Daily Mail get most of Middle England. Other details to be worked out.

But the effect would be that in large areas of the country, you’d be able to pick up a paper as good as The Times for free. Circulation would soar. So advertising rates would follow.

Now, the online versions of all papers need to charge a subscription fee. A fee that is suspiciously, by complete accident, similar across similar titles.

And there’s some extra goodies on the Apps that you can’t get in the free paper.

That’s the opposite of what papers have been trying to do until very recently – charge for the paper, then try somehow to make the free content on the web shake money from the magic internet tree.

(This totally does not work.)

Don’t tell me this hair-brained scheme of mine has no chance. Show me the maths. Our professional lives may depend on it.

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