CNBC’s Darren Rovell has a great story about newspaper vendors for the San Jose Mercury News selling cheer cards with stuff like “fear the beard” printed on them outside of AT&T Park. Which, unfortunately for the Mercury News, wasn’t the plan. The plan was for the cheer cards to be stuffed inside of newspapers, and have fans buy the papers. There’s some good detail in Rovell’s story about how the vendors were hustling, but this is the most interesting paragraph in the thing:
But it also has to be an indictment on the state of the newspaper business. Papers aren’t worth what they once were, so smart papers do things like The Mercury News did — do something creative that will get some attention. But even that couldn’t sell papers.
The newspapers are trying to sell customers a bundle of goods. The people only want one, narrow thing (in this case a “fear the beard” card). The market, such as it is, figured out what the people wanted and rewarded those who were specializing. It’s as if there’s a lesson to be learned here.
Well, a lesson that would apply more broadly without what was almost certainly fraud by the vendors, but there you are.