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The Long, Sad Death of Newspapers

An interesting perspective.

The problem began in the Watergate era when newspapers decided they were another branch of government and adopted all of its bloated bureaucracy and contempt for its customers.

Talk radio pulled out of this dive and is now a dominant media force.

Will newspapers pull out, or will leftist publishers and reporters ride the crippled craft all the way into the flaming crater?

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Blogger Cullen said...

The era of the big newspaper is over.

1) People can get their news much faster on TV, radio and internet.

While this has been the case for decades, opponents to this thesis always believed that folks would still flock to newsprint because of "more detailed stories."

Which brings me to:

2) People who want details are increasingly going to the internet to either do the research themselves or read a soft copy story.

Which means that newspapers need a much larger presence on the Web. But their business model there is flawed. They either A)Think that their hardcopy revenue will make up for internet costs, or B) Do not put enough time or effort into making their internet presence a decent product. The few newspapers who have begun to have real Web-savvy sites are very much behind the power curve.

3) Lastly, the only papers that have any real staying power, any more, are the local 6-to-12-page rags and that's because it's the only place a lot of small communities can get local news. They are ignored by the big papers near them and by all TV and radio. Sadly, these papers are dying quickly because advertisers don't seem to understand that this is one of the few places where there is still a viable print market.

All that's missing from the funeral service for USA Today, NYT, Washinting Journal, etc. is a date. Those macro papers just won't be able to survive in print. City papers, that focus on their city will fare better, but who knows for how much longer. If they pull back and focus a lot on the community they will do better than those that don't.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Teflon said...


I think you're right on (as usual). People who get newspapers today tend to do so for local coverage they can't get elsewhere.

In fact, most of the national and world coverage in a newspaper is nothing but regurgitated articles from wire services and The New York Times.

Newspapers have already transitioned from serious newsgathering organizations (well, as serious as they ever got) to almanacs built from other reporters' notebooks.

With the emergence of digital media, there's no reason to presume that newspapers won't continue to evolve to be mere brandnames on the same old crappy copy turned out by the drudges at AP, Reuters, et al.

The real question becomes: who fills the local news vacuum?

I think we'll see more and more of that coming from the blogosphere. After all, the national and world news commentariat online is pretty saturated right now. The best way to get hits may be to find a niche. Local coverage provides that niche.

8:42 AM  

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