News Corp Australia newspapers. (Image: AAP/Paul Miller)

Back in the mid-'90s, there were three big moments newspaper publishers should have paid attention to: the launch of commercialised web browsers, emerging classified ad sites, and the "Ten Crack Commandments" of rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Particularly commandment number four: “never get high on your own supply".

The supply they got high on? The power and influence that flowed seemingly as a matter of right from the entrenched habits of both readers and advertisers. Their mistake was to conflate their users’ habits with addiction.