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On By the Numbers: The McSweeney's 'San Francisco Panorama' Experiment

Let me just add something to my prolixity. Just so it's clear.

If Dave Eggers took over a major newspaper, you're damn right it would look better. Read better.

Would workers be happier? Absolutely. I would love to work somewhere where Dave was in charge. It would be like Google and Pixar combined.

But increased readership? I don't know. It's not that easy to make something for a general readership. A general newspaper is not a premium product bought by a small segment of erudite readers. It's something bought and read by a huge cross-section of readers. Frankly, they don't all want Panorama. Some people would love the changes, others would hate them. Some people would hate them just because they were different. That's how some people are.

And the biggest question is would it make more money? I don't think so.

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm 0

On By the Numbers: The McSweeney's 'San Francisco Panorama' Experiment

Vince2, I don't understand your reply. I don't dismiss Dave's ideas. I endorse them.

The problem is that Dave says:

"The Panorama is just a reminder that readers will be more likely to pay for the physical paper if they’re given something very different than what we get on the Internet... The hope is that we can demonstrate that if you rework the newspaper model a bit, it can not only survive, but actually thrive"

And then he presents misleading financials.

Why would he do that? Why not just come out front and say that Panorama as it exists currently is NOT a viable product. Here is someone saying to Use these ideas and you can thrive and then printing a product which has no financial viability at all.

Sure, when you gather a bunch of amazingly talented people and don't pay them and charge a premium price you will have a great product. Don't you think we already know that? The challenge is to produce a product with a variety of talent and employees that need to eat. And need medical insurance. Also, you have to get advertisers. And subscriptions.

Dave KNOWS that it is almost impossible and that's why he ain't gonna do it. It's easy to have all the most talented people working for no pay and then saying "look at me look what we made why can't you be like us?"

I say again. Dave Eggers: Buy a newspaper and show us how to have all this high priced talent, increase subscriptions, pay your employees and survive as an ongoing concern. Don't tell me you can't get all your fans to buy shares if you announce you're going to do it. I know you can. And I know you won't.

It's easy to tell other people how easy it is to make something better. The practical reality is very different.

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm 0

On By the Numbers: The McSweeney's 'San Francisco Panorama' Experiment

Vince2, see my previous reply.

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm 0

On By the Numbers: The McSweeney's 'San Francisco Panorama' Experiment

"Dave is very good at showing what you could produce if you had the best writers and the best artists working for nothing and people were willing to pay a premium price for your product. But even that is clearly unsustainable. How this could possibly help the newspaper industry I don’t know."

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm 0

On By the Numbers: The McSweeney's 'San Francisco Panorama' Experiment

Choire, tanks for pointing that Panorama is a fantasy, albeit a very nice fantasy.

It's funny that Vince2 mentions Wired. When Dave worked downstairs from Wired when it was on 3rd, I always tried to figure out how he managed to put out MIGHT magazine. It was so expensive looking. Where did he get the money? The advertisers? I had wanted to launch a magazine myself and I couldn't figure out his numbers.

It turns out that MIGHT was a fantasy too. As Dave wrote in his own book, he simply wrote personal checks to cover the costs of publishing. And when he tried to sell the magazine - which was one of the most brilliant things I had ever read - nobody would buy it because there was no profit in it. None. Zero. Absolutely no profit.

Dave is very good at showing what you could produce if you had the best writers and the best artists working for nothing and people were willing to pay a premium price for your product. But even that is clearly unsustainable. How this could possibly help the newspaper industry I don't know. If anything, it's kind of saying "in your face" more than anything else.

Dave I am going to call you out on this.

You want to show us how a newspaper could succeed? Then buy one. They are very very cheap these days.

We all know you're not going to do it because the reality of running a newspaper sucks. The realities of the numbers sucks.

Panaroma is an amazing product that only exists in a fantasy world.

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm 0