Jeff Jarvis ran with a “throwaway” line from Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton stating that the LAT web revenue now exceeds its editorial payroll costs, and speculates that the LAT could switch to a web-only model. There’s a few problems with that:
- The editorial staff is a small part of the newsroom, even the local-only newsroom.
- The web server and technical support for a high-traffic website is not cheap.
- A major metropolitan daily cannot, despite claims to the contrary, focus solely on local and get away with it. Does anybody believe depending on, say, the Washington Post for DC news or the Sacramento Bee for Californai statehouse news is going to be cheaper than relying on The News Organization That Cannot Be Quoted™ (that would be AP), or Reuters?
- Fee-based content, as a rule, does not draw enough to cover the costs.
Maybe if they got rid of the editorial staff, which is the largest bit of aggravation, they could be profitable. I still doubt it, though.