An international daily newspaper
I dread the day that it finally happens. But that day is coming and sooner than you might think. The daily newspaper will become a relic of a bygone era, a museum piece if you will. In the not too distant future I will no longer be able to thumb through my hometown newspaper every morning at the local coffee shop to catch up with what is going on in my community. No longer will there be a convenient place to check the obits which becomes increasingly important as one grows older. But what I will miss most of all is checking out the box scores during the baseball season. For an avid baseball fan like myself there is nothing quite like it and the idea of getting this info from some electronic device just won't cut it with me. Over the past decade newspapers have dramatically cut staff and now rely on news services like AP and Reuters for more and more of their content. In the meantime, there are fewer and fewer experienced investigative reporters to keep an eye on those in power at the state and local levels. In the town I live in local news bureaus have pretty much been eliminated as well. It is an extremely sad state of affairs and very painful to watch.
So just what are the factors that are contributing to the demise of America's great metropolitan newspapers? Many conservatives opine that most major dailies are far too liberal in their point of view. I would tend to agree to some extent but I think this notion is really overrated. For a myriad of reasons newspaper advertising revenue has been declining precipitously for many years. I read recently that advertising revenue at the New York Times dropped some 21% in the last quarter as compared to the previous year. Local retailers, once a huge part of a newspapers advertiser base, have been disappearing at an alarming rate only to be replaced by the big box stores. Less competition naturally leads to fewer ads. As a result of the popularity of websites like eBay and Craigslist newspapers have also seen their classified ad revenue dip by more than 70% in just the past 10 years! This is a devastating trend that shows no sign of reversing itself anytime soon. Furthermore, the painful reality is that most younger people simply don't read newspapers. These folks just never acquired the habit and rely on the web for most of their news and information.
While I am hopeful that many daily newspapers will survive in some form online I doubt that I will be very interested. A startling story out of New York a while back would seem to indicate that not too many others are interested in paying for the privilege either. Three months after instituting a $5.00 per week/$260.00 per year fee for unfettered access to www.newsday.com. the Long Island daily found it could attract only 35 subscribers! This sobering revelation must have sent shudders down the spines of those in the boardrooms of major newspapers all across this country who were counting on increased revenue from the web to be their salvation. Back to the drawing board yet again! My guess is that most daily newspapers will disappear from newsstands within a few years. And given the shaky state of our economy I suspect we might see several more major dailies cut back dramatically or cease publication altogether in the next year or two. And if all of this comes to pass it will be a very sad day for America. In the meantime, I would like to hear your thoughts on newspapers. Do you read one on a regular basis? Does this format have any future at all?
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