Saturday, January 14, 2006

Newspapers - part 2

Rick Hall's comments to my earlier post were right: years, decades from now we'll still want to hold much of what we read in our hands. (Thanks, Rick.) The NY Times, the Journal, maybe the Post ... these aren't local papers, and I believe there will always be a place for them, as there will for magazines.

But back to local papers...

I came across this from an interview in TIME with Dave Barry:

TIME: Newspapers have changed since you started [writing a column more than thirty years ago].
BARRY: They're less edgy.... When we had more space, more money and less obsession with losing readers, editors were quicker to print what they thought was funny just because they thought it was funny. Now they're more likely to wonder, Is it really funny? Will it annoy people? Maybe we should show a focus group.


Blogger Dale G. said...


I recently read that per capita readership of newspapers in the U.S. dropped about 50 percent from early 70s to 2000. (Scroll to the bottom of this site under the title, U.S. Newspaper Readership In Freefall, 1972-2000 -- )

It's "academic," but here's a line from the introduction: "Daily readership, as measured by the General Social Survey, fell from about two-thirds of the adult population in 1972 to about one-third in 2000."

Recently, the Orlando Sentinel laid off several dozen staffers, after its circ declined by 11 percent, according to one report. And that's here in boomtown! If a newspaper can't stem the loss of readers here, where circ should be growing, then the newspaper industry is facing a threat like it's never seen before.

I believe it's true that many of those readers are shifting to the newspaper's Web sites. The big selling point for a newspaper advertising for a long time (my lifetime, anyway) has been that it delivers readers who pay for the content, but no one's paying to read -- at least not yet.

I read Fine's column and some of the reader commentary that followed. I'm inclined to believe the long-term outlook is awful for big newspapers, better for little ones that provide exclusive content -- local news no one else covers well.

Challenging times for newspapers, to be sure.

5:24 PM  

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