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Why Newspapers Are Dying — Why Now?
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Why Newspapers Are Dying

The Pensacola Beach Blog has the story of further staff reductions at the Pensacola News Journal. You hear all kinds of excuses for why newspapers are dying, many which focus on the effects of the Internet, but this is really suicide caused by corporate management more interested in Wall Street, than Main Street.

What people miss is the fact that the newspapers that are cutting their staffs aren’t losing money, the papers are making a profit, but it isn’t as big a profit as analysts on Wall Street think they should be making.

Of course, the loss of staff means a reduction in reporting, to the point that the local reporting is being replaced by wire service stories. You don’t buy a local newspaper to read wire service stories; you buy to read about what in happening in your area. The AP isn’t going to cover local government budgets or elections. They aren’t going to cover the school board meetings. They don’t care about high school sports. Even with all of the resources of the Internet you need a local paper to find out what is going on in your little town. Every time they reduce the local reporting, they reduce the need to buy a local newspaper. It is a slow and painful way of committing suicide.


1 LadyMin { 10.31.08 at 11:53 pm }

Same thing is happening with my paper, the Chicago Tribune. Not only did they eliminate staff, they totally redesigned and shrunk the paper. We are now being directed to the net to read some of the columnists that were previously on the Op-Ed page. The news section has lots of little snippets of stories, possibly for the short attention span readers. The local section is pretty much gone. I get local news from a weekly local town paper.

The Trib now has a more tabloid look, which is not a compliment. I’m not impressed. I continue to subscribe because I like to read the paper on the train in the morning. Otherwise I would get my news online.

2 Bryan { 11.01.08 at 12:02 am }

They really are pushing people away and complaining about losing readership.

It doesn’t occur to the owners that newspapers will always appeal to an older demographic because it takes a while to understand that local news is important, and to need it in your life. Changing to accommodate the “golden demographic” is a fool’s errand. You don’t read ads when you’re young and ad revenue is what’s important. But ad pricing is based on readers, just like clicks on the Internet. People do advertise for older customers, and often more expensive products.

Serve your market is a core principle of business that newspapers don’t seem to understand.

3 LadyMin { 11.02.08 at 11:35 am }

If they would ride my train they would see that the majority of people reading the paper are of the more mature crowd. The younger ones are mostly plugged into their iPods, typing on their laptops, chatting on their mobile phones or sleeping. Older folks do all that too… but I don’t see too many young folks with newspapers.

4 Bryan { 11.02.08 at 11:43 am }

Newspapers are an acquired taste, but no one will acquire it if they don’t provide some value to readers. Content is king in any media environment. Good content builds market share. The rules haven’t changed, but the corporate management doesn’t understand the rules. Maybe they should read something about the industry they are managing.