The newspaper is not dead yet, but the trade group that represents the interests of major newspaper publishers for 129 years is dropping the word “newspaper” from its name. The Newspaper Association of America is now going by the moniker News Media Alliance.
A few years ago the American Society of Newspaper Editors substituted in “News” for “Newspaper.” What’s next, The New York Times changes its motto to “All the news that’s fit to download”?
The newspaper, er, sorry, the news trade group has lost about 25% of its members over the past eight years. Some newspapers have shut down. Others publish less frequently. Almost all have decreased the size of a regular edition. Staffs have been cut back. More papers use newswires and aggregated resources. Journalism has been beaten down-and an uninformed society suffers for it.
But all is not bleak. The New York Times, in reporting the story on the name change, written by Jim Rutenberg, stated:
“Know-nothing press haters may say that news organizations are going out of business because the public is shunning them, but that’s not the case at all. Through online exposure, newspapers are reaching more people than ever. The problem is how they make money. Circulation for physical newspapers is declining and so is print advertising; digital ads remain far less profitable. The trick is finding a way to make up the lost revenue.”
Indeed, the trick is to make up the lost revenue. No one has figured that out yet -- and that’s the problem. The media knows the answer but it doesn’t want to admit it. The newspapers have to cease their print editions all at once – go online full time, charge higher ad rates, make very, very little available for free, and keep content localized.
I never want to see that happen.
A newspaper is a beautiful thing. I am biased. I grew up, not in the digital era, but when newspapers were the leaders of journalism and were what stood between a world of justice and one of darkness. Every town had multiple daily newspapers. Though people started to rely on television for immediate news coverage, newspapers still led the way in dictating the conversation of the day.
Now the newspaper, though still important, is seen as a dying relic, an outdated, anti-environmental source for old news. As the newspaper editions and editorial staffs shrink, the quality of a once-vaunted product decreases, almost beyond recognition. It’s unlikely the newspaper will return to its glory days. You can’t reverse the digital revolution. A second generation is now being raised on digital media.
As I write this, on the Metro North train from New Rochelle to Manhattan, the immediate nine people to my left and right not only are not reading a physical paper, but they are all on their smartphones. Case closed.
The newspaper can only survive with funding. It will become a charitable pursuit, one where non-profits finance a community paper or worse, where rich people swoop in to buy up cheap papers and use the organ to push their own slimy, political agenda for selfish financial gain.
The advertising numbers, like a blood panel from the doctor’s office, show the health of the media patient, and it’s ugly.
According to Magna Global, 2015 ad revenue for newspapers fell 12.8%. Magazines fell 12.7%. TV fell 3.6% revenue climbed 20%. Outdoor advertising, like billboards, rose 18%.
When will the red ink stop so the black ink can flow freely?
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