Newspapers never made money on ‘news,’” Hal Varian said. “Serious reporting, say from Afghanistan, has simply never paid its way. What paid for newspapers were the automotive sections, real-estate, home-and-garden, travel, or technology, where advertisers could target their ads.
The key here is that these segments were easily targeted. However the remaining elements (e.g. news) were bundled as part of a larger entity in part because of their inability to be individually targeted to the audience let alone have individual ROI models associated to them.