Now that we’ve hit bottom, where do we go from here?
This column appeared March 25, 2002, in the Online Journalism Review to kick off its new The Future of News section. Here’s the version on the OJR site.
By J.D. Lasica
Now that the online news industry has survived the cyberspace swoon and woken up to the Mother of All Hangovers, what’s next?
Opinion leaders in the online news business say they’re cautiously upbeat about the industry’s long-term prospects. While no one is saying that Web publishers have found the path to the promised land, many say the pervasive doom and gloom of 2001 — marked by cutbacks, closures and contortions — is being replaced by a sense that the worst is over.
“I think we’ve turned the corner,” says David D. Hiller, president of Tribune Interactive. “We actually grew through the nuclear winter. Our operating losses were cut by more than half, our revenues were up, and we’re looking for further growth this year.”
More realistic business expectations and improvements to the online news product add up to “a lot healthier” landscape today, says Scott B. Meyer, general manager of The New York Times on the Web.
“People are starting to figure out their business models, and they’re finding a way to do more with less,” he says. “Everyone’s learning that capital is not free and that profits are more important than eyeballs. It’s too early to declare that the industry is out of the woods yet, but it’s way too early to declare its demise.”