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Monday, September 14, 2015

Newspapers Need To Step It Up



One currency, one language, one newspaper.  

These may all come true one day – to the detriment of society.  

The world loves the US dollar, but many currencies drive the marketplace and digital money has not yet taken hold.  English reaches 20-25% of the world.  But so does Chinese.  And Spanish is growing.  No one language speaks for the world.  

Any when it comes to the media, it seems like there are many voices, but they may be drying up.  We can’t afford to have just one media company.

Look at print and TV media.  There’s a lot of cross-ownership.  Someone like Rupert Murdoch can own multiple papers, such as The Post and WSJ.  He can own a TV network, such as Fox.  Many media outlets, nationally, or within a city, can be owned by a single person or company.  A lot of content is syndicated, too.  When it comes down to it, a handful of media conglomerates run the media.  It’s getting worse, due to the cost of producing journalism and the competition for ad revenue.

According to The New York Times, US newspaper circulation lost 8.3% over the past five years.  In Europe, the drop was more than double that, at 21.3%.  Now publishers of newspapers are talking about forming an organization that pulls resources to sell ads at all of the newspapers.  Not only does that cost jobs, it limits competition, and threatens the editorial independence of each publication.  But the industry embraces such an idea.

Newspapers have been pathetic since The Great Recession beat them up, coupled with the 1-2 punch of the Internet.  Some papers closed down or limited their publication frequency.  Daily editions thinned out. Original local content got filled increasingly by newswire stories.  Hard news got substituted by ever-green fluff features.  The American public, as a result, is given a diluted product that doesn’t elevate society.  As a result, higher prices for an inferior product has eroded readership, which continues the cycle of papers cutting back and further eroding readership, etc.

The cycle needs to be broken.  How?

We need to start a nationwide non-profit that raises money for publications locally.  The publications have to commit to using the funds to support real journalism. Without a free and vibrant press, society suffers.  So does the book publishing world.  It needs a strong media to give coverage to its books.

I see how crappy newspapers are. On a recent trip, I read The Providence Journal, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and New Haven Register.  I was not impressed. They are thin papers with big type, no depth, and soft in their coverage.  This repeats itself throughout the country.  We need a turn-around.

It might not happen.  The internet is taking eyeballs away from print.  Consolidating will increase.  Society will need to decide if it will support newspapers.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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