Newspapers

When you think about it, the concept of a newspaper is so unwieldy as to be ridiculous. The best way to disseminate news and community information, in an age of radio, television, and the Internet, probably isn’t to print it on huge sheets of paper, fold them carefully, and drive around dropping them on people’s porches.

Unfortunately, the business model that newspapers have used for years is based around that old school, paper ideal. It’s what the advertisers expect, and when circulation is down, advertisers are unhappy. The Seattle P-I, an old and well-respected paper, printed its last issue last week. It’s going web-only. Many other major papers are looking at doing the same thing, or perhaps printing a physical paper once a week and going online the rest of the time.

The Buffalo News is in pretty good shape. This is a very loyal market for newspaper readership, they’re the only game in town, and they’re not part of some debt-laden conglomerate. So they’re profitable, for now.

I worry about where this is going in ten years, though. Despite all of the sage head nodding about how the newspaper is obsolete from the academics, how crap like Twitter and Youtube is “reshaping” news, the fact is that there is a serious need for real journalists in this world. Idiots like me yammering on their blogs, most of which end up linking the the real newspapers anyway, are no replacement.

2 Responses to “Newspapers”

  1. Pitt says:

    As much as I like the concept of a newspaper, I do not nor have I ever subscribed to one. To me, they’re usually read on an airplane or in a hotel room to kill some time, or perhaps over breakfast on a weekend. Having papers go all or mostly online is probably the way of the industry, and you can still have real journalists doing the writing and legwork. The advertising revenue should more than make up for the lack of actual subscriber fees, since most papers were pretty cheap (50 cents or so) anyway and that price likely just covers the cost of paper, printing, and distribution- if that.

  2. matt says:

    @Pitt

    That’s the problem, though — advertisers understand concepts like “number of subscribers”, or “total circulation”. They’re a little more hinky about treating the number of web visitors as actual viewers of their ads.

    If the advertisers, who are the real customers, aren’t on board, moving online will kill any paper that tries it. After all, with no ads, there’s no money, there’s no real journalism.

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