For some perverse reason, Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of Hearst Newspapers and the SF Chronicle, decided to go on the Colbert Report and defend the worth of newspapers. On his blog, Bronstein, the former editor of the Chroniclewhich Hearst has threatened with closure or sale unless unions submit concessionsexpressed some qualms about his appearance earlier in the day. After all, last week, Colbert conducted a painfully hilarious interview with Newspaper Association of America's John Sturm. (See that video after the jump).
In the end, he had little to fear, as Bronstein got off with some gentle ribbing by the satirical host. Some examples of the amiable give-and-take:
Bronstein: "It's not the internet killing newspapers, it's a variety of things."
Colbert: "Am I killing newspapers? Is it Google?"
Bronstein: "I'll have to check your ratings. As for Google (NSDQ: GOOG), they're not killing newspapers, but they haven't been helping."
Asked about the fate of the The Chronicle, Bronstein told Colbert he believes it will hang in there. "Instead of focusing on the paper part, which may go away, we need to focus on the news part." He then called newspapers' decision not to charge for their online content in the early days of the internet an "Adam and Eve Moment." The interview then moved on to the fate of the music industry and about the parallels with newspapers. Bronstein noted that iTunes has done well with micropayments and that's an option that papers have to explore. Ultimately, he endorsed the plan announced this week at the Associated Press' annual meeting to protect the use of its content from sites that don't pay for it. "Newspapers are the only institutions that are supporting rooms of journalists. It cost The Boston Globe about $1 million to investigate sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Websites can't afford to do that." (Video of the Bronstein interview wasn't immediately available, so check out the excruciating clip of the NAA's Sturm after the jump.)
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By David Kaplan