The New York Twimes: Should a Newspaper Buy Twitter?

Last Updated Apr 24, 2009 10:21 AM EDT

Is Twitter the savior of the newspaper industry?

According to Harvard Business Publishing blogger Umair Haque, Twitter would provide the Old Gray Lady (a marriage he refers to as the Twimes) with four resources it needs to survive in the 21st century: viral distribution, context, relational capital, and business model experimentation.

Here's what Haque says about the last point, business models:

"Where's the business model? Everywhere. Here's one: charge companies for the right to talk back to people on Twitter enriched by NYT content. Here's another: charge other content providers for the right to distribute via Twitter. Here's yet another: charge advertisers for the right to discuss products and services with people via Twitter. The point is that the NYT could experiment with literally hundreds -- like I say: business models happen."
Read his full piece: How to Save Newspapers (Or, Why the NYT Should Acquire Twitter).
A Bridge Too Far?
Clearly, the cash poor Times Co. is not in a financial condition to acquire one of the hottest startups this decade. But just as clearly the newspaper industry is dying before our eyes -- major papers in Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, and Denver are marching toward the newsprint-lined grave already occupied by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Haque's bomb-throw remedy is revolutionary. Compare his prescription with that of Glenn Harlan Reynolds on TCS Daily, who says to survive newspapers must become wholly electronic, reporters must learn new skills such as videography, that newspaper should keep their political leanings out of news stories, and finally that readers need to be writers and commentators, too.

Sounds almost too little, too late next to Haque's approach.

Do you have an idea to save newspapers? Do Twitter or other social networking technologies have something to contribute to how we receive our news in the future?

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.