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The business of newspapers

March 24, 2009

Re "The Net and the news," editorial, March 19

Newspapers should form associations that would allow readers to subscribe to a group of about a dozen papers of their choice online for a charge about equal to the cost of a single print subscription.

No reader would read all of these papers, but he would be provided a list of all the headlines and be allowed to search for and read articles with subjects and keywords of interest in any of them. He would gain extra value by having rapid access to articles from previous editions of all papers in the group. The participating papers would post targeted advertisements next to the articles that the reader selects, thus providing more value for advertisers.

I think this business model would work. But then, what do I know? I already pay for two print subscriptions and one online subscription.

Leroy Miller

West Hills

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Re "Cutbacks at newspapers open the door to more political tricks," Column, March 20

In another attempt to portray dying newspapers as victims of the Internet, the economy, fickle readers and community blogs, columnist James Rainey makes startling admissions of poor decision-making by newspaper publishers. They laid off higher-salaried investigative reporters and replaced them with neophyte reporters "easily bamboozled" by political operatives.

If investigative reporting is a key service that Internet competitors can't match up with, as Rainey attests, why get rid of the top reporters? Any business survives on its niche: what it can do better than any competitor. A multimillion-dollar newspaper should have other places to trim first.

Maybe it's too late, and newspapers are surrendering their niche to the Internet. Community blogs, in particular, publish contributions from residents with backgrounds in business and finance. They don't like having their tax dollars wasted by city councils.

Allan Pilger

Mission Viejo

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