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Are Newspapers Doomed?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-even-say-it dept.

The Media 338

Ponca City, We love you writes "James Surowiecki has an interesting article in the New Yorker that crystalizes the problems facing print newspapers today and explains why we may soon be seeing more major newspapers filing for bankruptcy, as the Tribune Company did last week. 'There's no mystery as to the source of all the trouble: advertising revenue has dried up,' writes Surowiecki, but the 'peculiar fact about the current crisis is that even as big papers have become less profitable they've arguably become more popular,' with the blogosphere piggybacking on traditional journalism's content. Surowiecki imagines many possible futures for newspapers, from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to deep-pocketed patrons. 'For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime — intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on — and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can't last. Soon enough, we're going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.'"

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338 comments

Oh No! (5, Funny)

mac1235 (962716) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190733)

This is terrible. You can't put websites at the bottom of the parrot cage!

Re:Oh No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190757)

This is terrible. You can't put websites at the bottom of the parrot cage!

Or use them to wrap takeaway food...

Re:Oh No! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190803)

This is terrible. You can't put websites at the bottom of the parrot cage!

Newspapers were considered so important to the country that the first amendment to the Constitution preserved the freedom of the press. It's sad that I'll likely live to see the end of newspapers in this country. Most have already lost relevance. It may seem cool to get your news from bloggers but they aren't news sources they just voice opinions they aren't held to any standards. Even broadcast news is all opinion pieces these days. Objective news is a dying thing. Free speech and freedom of the press were separate things in the Constitution for a reason. One is opinion and one is supposed to preserve the right to objective news that isn't controlled by the government. This country would not exist as we know it without newspapers so they deserve more respect than to be viewed as bird cage filler. It'll be a sad day when the last newspaper closes. The founding fathers would be horrified and we should be as well.

Re:Oh No! (3, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190861)

Newspapers were considered so important to the country that the first amendment to the Constitution preserved the freedom of the press.

Nope. Newspapers aren't all that important, even in those early days.

What was really important was pamhlets. And those live on, in the form of not only that laser printer on your desk, but also the flash-ban books in the nonfiction section. And blogs.

Free speech and freedom of the press were separate things in the Constitution for a reason.

Yes, but not for the reason you think. Speech and press are mentioned separately -- in the REDUNDANT first ten amendments -- because we inherited British jurisprudence, which has them be separate things.

Remember that the Bill of Rights was written as a "sure, we'll put it in just to be safe" thing. It wasn't part of the original negotiated plan, and was likely written by a legislator who was trying to compe up with a good inclusive list one afternoon.

Re:Oh No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191467)

"Remember that the Bill of Rights was written as a "sure, we'll put it in just to be safe" thing. It wasn't part of the original negotiated plan, and was likely written by a legislator who was trying to compe up with a good inclusive list one afternoon."

Wow did you skip a few classes in school? The Constitution was considered a living document at the time and it was always intended to be expanded. Also it wasn't written by one legislator who was bored one afternoon. Without the Bill of Rights we'd live in a very different country. Governments aren't known for protecting individual rights it's why the Constitution was written in the first place. A massive problem in this country is that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are taken for granted and some rights are considered no longer important. You might want to bone up on your revolutionary history. There was a lot negoiation in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that's where all the God references came from. Several of the Founding Fathers didn't want them included for reasons of separation of church and state but they had to pacify the God Squad much as they do today. Rights to free speech and free assembly weren't consider frivolous people died for them. The first Ten Amendments weren't REDUDANT they were a continuation and clarification of the original document. Most points in the first ten recieved no mention in the original Constitution. And no Free Press and Free Speech we're separated due to a writers stutter they were MEANT as separate rights. Newspapers were pamphlets as you call them because paper was expensive and newspapers were often printed as news happened so there might be more than one edition in a single day. The web isn't superior to newspapers for the simple reason that web content is largely unregulated and wildly inaccurate. I see typos even on sites like CNN constantly so they aren't even spell checked and their content even is poorly fact checked. A few months ago I saw video of a friend that's a film director. They referred to him as a porn director and kept showing facial CUs. The problem is he has never directed porn and he was in the process of getting his latest film off the ground. I tried to contact CNN to get them to pull the video down but I couldn't find direct contact info so I posted on several blogs and contacted my friend who was aware of it and wasn't happy. I'm guessing the phone call from his lawyer did the trick because the story disappeared and was never mentioned again after running constantly all day and featured prominently on the web site. I constantly find factual errors on even news web sites but errors are fairly rare in newspapers, they check their facts.

You may not have much respect for the Constitution or Bill of Rights but they are there to benefit you.

Re:Oh No! (4, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191011)

>>>Free speech and freedom of the press were separate things in the Constitution for a reason. One is opinion and one is supposed to preserve the right to objective news
>>>

This is revisionist history. If you actually traveled back to the 1780s, 1790s, and 1810s, you would find all kinds of "unverified opinions" coming out of the presses. Newspapers and pamphlets (like "Common Sense" by Paine) were typically run by a single man, and that man used his press to push his own personal views. There was no objectivity back then.

And why should there be? If I want to publish a newspaper called "Liberty Today" why should I have to present both sides? It's MY paper and MY press. I should be able to decide what will and will not be published with MY dollars.

Re:Oh No! (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191165)

No individual view is objectve, but if different views are aired - without any official hindrance (congess shall make no law...), people can make up their own minds among them. In practice the real extreme loonies usually cancel each other out.

That of course works as long as the people are well informed & educated enough to choose wisely...

Re:Oh No! (3, Informative)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191137)

Newspapers were considered so important to the country that the first amendment to the Constitution preserved the freedom of the press.

If we follow that what you say is true, which I don't but lets for the sake of argument, then horse carts were also considered important to the country at that time. However you don't see the US still keeping that industry afloat. Rather it's the free press part that matters.

Newspapers are dying out due to technological advances. By virtue of what they represent it's more sad than with other things that have done so. And of course they will go down kicking and screaming. I'll personally miss a cheap way to line a kitten or puppies floor area. Or an alternative to a drop cloth when I'm painting something.

Re:Oh No! (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191249)

correction: free press is so important to democracy that the first amendment to the Constitution specifically includes a clause for its explicit preservation. there's a reason it's called 'freedom of press,' not 'freedom of newspaper.'

i think it would be sad for professional journalism to go the way of the dodo, however i don't see this as likely to happen. we're simply seeing a shift from traditional media--like newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, etc.--to the new media of the web. and frankly, this is a very good thing. over the past few decades the mainstream media has become increasingly consolidated, with most media outlets being controlled by a handful of media conglomerates. this has not only homogenized the media, but it has also put the power of controlling how the public perceives the world into the hands of a select few.

however, with the advent of the web, we're starting to see a resurgence in independent news sources. this along with web search technology has made it easier than ever for individuals to access a wide/diverse range of media sources large and small, allowing people to account for inherent biases in the media and easily perform their own research and fact-checking. whereas newspapers and TV networks rarely publish/broadcast corrections (where people can see them) and admit to their journalistic blunders (such as the whole Saddam Hussein/al-Qaida connection, the non-existent WMDs, the incorrect reporting of election results, etc.), the online media establishment is very keen to challenge the facts reported by other news sources and identify misinformation.

frankly, this notion that print journalism is dead or dying is nothing new. TV/radio was supposed to have killed print journalism a long time ago. when JFK was shot, the newspapers found themselves unable to keep up with the live coverage and constant updates by TV networks. by the time they got a story out, it was already outdated or incorrect because the story had changed. they had to release several editions on the same day, and ended up printing different versions of the same edition with conflicting headlines [historybuff.com]. but somehow they managed to survive to this day one way or another.

personally, i'd prefer if newspapers became non-profits. by selling ads (usually about 50% of each edition) newspaper publishers become beholden to advertisers. additionally, most traditional media outlets are commercially tied to other corporate industries which have a vested interest in pushing public opinion in a certain direction, creating a very dangerous conflict of interest. for instance, General Electric, a major arms manufacturer, owns NBC, CNBC, MSNBC. this has serious implications on how these media outlets cover (or don't cover) the news.

Re:Oh No! (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191437)

30 years ago most newspapers had strong ideological biases. In the 70s the minor papers folded and the more "mainstream" hardnews papers picked up their readership which bought those papers years. Then the competition started to fold and most cities ended up with one major daily paper.

Newspapers during the 70s were much more like the cable news shows are today. The situation you see is recent. And I should mention just as we see today excellent detailed research from blogs in the 1950s you used to see really good research from the print media, not just repeating of the obvious stories. Again you are starting to see the system developing on cable television:

(1) minor (specialized) blog reports a story
(2) other blogs get involved
(3) cable news tries to verify and reports on the status
(4) blogs fill in more details
(5) repeat 3&4 as needed.

Re:Oh No! (4, Insightful)

M1rth (790840) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191445)

It may seem cool to get your news from bloggers but they aren't news sources they just voice opinions they aren't held to any standards.

Newspapers haven't had standards at least since the 1970s.

Even broadcast news is all opinion pieces these days.

"Duh." Anyone who watched the insane rush to anoint Barack Obama and the nastiness with which every member of the press treated the other side (not to mention the witch-hunt mentality towards the few actually neutral reporters who dared to ask Obama/Biden the TOUGH questions) will realize this.

Of course, there's plenty of other evidence why this was the case [howobamagotelected.com].

Objective news is a dying thing.

Again, "Duh." The populace hasn't demanded balanced news, so it's dying. The recent push for the reinstitution of the "Fairness Doctrine" [wikipedia.org] by the Dems is not really about "fairness", it's about their trying to take a stab at media outlets that don't carry their party line; you can be damn sure they would claim the "big" news networks are already "fair" and so "don't need changing" while they try to censor out anyone that doesn't agree with them.

Free speech and freedom of the press were separate things in the Constitution for a reason. One is opinion and one is supposed to preserve the right to objective news that isn't controlled by the government.

"The right to objective news that isn't controlled by the government" - sadly, the idea of "objective news" is nigh impossible to find. There are so many ways to tilt a story:

- Weasel words
- Incendiary words
- Selective sourcing
- Abuse of statistics ("counting the hits, forgetting the misses", etc)

And that's just a few.

It'll be a sad day when the last newspaper closes.

Funny, I think the opposite. Newspapers will either adapt, or they won't. I'd rather have a lot more, smaller newspapers (and local papers seem to do just fine, because they can get locally-targeted advertising) competing and catching each other's mistakes than one big conglomerate that simply wants to indoctrinate, lie to, deceive, manipulate, and tilt the story over and over and over again.

Re:Oh No! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191461)

It may seem cool to get your news from bloggers but they aren't news sources they just voice opinions they aren't held to any standards.

Ha! It may seem cool to get your news from tabloids but they aren't news sources they just voice opinions they aren't held to any standards.

Really - I don't know if objective news is a dying thing, or if it's always been this way, but the amount of misinformation, bias, scaremongering and outright harrassment out there is appalling. Recently in the UK, we had the News Of The World secretly filming private sexual acts, then putting it on their website for profit, as well as making libellous false allegations about Nazism - when understandably they were successfully sued for invasion of privacy, we have the news media whinging about their supposed freedom and how important they all were.

Even non-tabloids aren't immune to this. Objective news went a long time before the Internet came along, if it ever existed at all (how would I know? Am I supposed to trust you, an anonymous commenter to a blog?) - and the Internet at least makes it easier for me to check out things from various different sources.

The founding fathers were concerned about freedom of speech, as I am too. That doesn't mean that people are entitled to be heard - if newspapers die because no one chooses to buy them, then that is not a freedom of speech issue. I certainly won't be shedding a tear.

Re:Oh No! (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190819)

This is terrible. You can't put websites at the bottom of the parrot cage!

So instead of using newspapers, people will seek other forms of paper for this kind of thing. For example the stuff that's in their printer or copier. And so once again Xerox is likely to benefit from a changing society through advances in technology, without actually changing themselves.

It's attrition in the target audience. (2, Insightful)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190739)

Once most of the people who grew up reading newspapers die or just stop reading them, it's inevitable that the print form will cease to exist -- as we know it. I see a lot more prints of news websites than I see newspaper clippings, so the need for SOME of it to hit paper is still there. It's just that most people don't want the whole thing delivered physically any more. They still want the content, but most of it never leaves the digital form, so while NEWSPAPERS may die, journalism does not necessarily follow suit.

Mal-2

Re:It's attrition in the target audience. (4, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190949)

Once most of the people who grew up reading newspapers die or just stop reading them, it's inevitable that the print form will cease to exist -- as we know it.

That would be me, then. I grew a broadsheet reader, but I don't bother nowadays. The press try to claim a "gatekeeper" role, filtering the real news from the dross (I see they're still claiming "intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on"), but they've long since abandoned that. Apart from opinion, all you find in newspapers now is PR releases reprinted almost verbatim and Associated Press reports reprinted almost verbatim (it's fascinating to compare reports of the same incident in different newspapers: big news each paper will put it's own spin on, but mid-range and low level news is often word-for-word the same between newspapers). The only question the editors ask is "will this sell" (more precisely, "will this supply readers who we can sell to advertisers"), which is no more effective as a gatekeeper than the blogger who says "will this entertain my readers". I don't see how the news press can survive; it's only added value for the readers would be investigation, fact checking and real, on-the-ground reporting, and that's expensive (too expensive for the extra readership it attracts). All that's left is pure entertainment -- celeb gossip, pictures of scantily clad young people and amusing factoids pretending to be news. The internet is a threat there, too, but at least it's cheaper. I'm guessing that it's cheaper to send a reporter to a celebrity party than to a war zone?

Re:It's attrition in the target audience. (2, Interesting)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191095)

I think the newspapers with wider circulation may survive with local papers dying out completely. It should be possible for the nationally distributed newspapers to cannibalize the local and regional newspapers by offering versions with local news.

On top of that, they could probably also offer additional customization of content such as allowing you to choose which columnists appear in your copy. A service like that, combined with the fact that at least some sentimentality over print is likely to be passed on to the next generation should keep the newspaper around for some time.

Re:It's attrition in the target audience. (4, Insightful)

SkyDude (919251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191319)

I see just the opposite happening. In my area the Boston Glob is hemorrhaging a reported $1,000,000 per week. Almost all of the extra entertainment stuff - science and tech columnists, society, etc - is gone now. The Sunday paper used to be hundreds of page, but now is barely 60 - 70 pages long.

On the other hand, my local paper, run by a chain that publishes a similar paper in about two dozen nearby areas, is thriving, albeit not setting any profitability records.

Local papers have local news and that's what's important to people. It's still a thrill for a parent to see their kid's picture in the local paper. Local merchants need a way to reach local customers.

When the web becomes a truly localized place for most people, then the small papers may disappear. Right now they fill a niche and throughout all of publishing, those are the businesses that are surviving the "onslaught" of the web.

"Soon?" (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190747)

'For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime â" intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on â" and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can't last. Soon enough, we're going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.'

really? I thought that vanished in 1999

There has been very little fact checking or true investigation in reporting in quite some time, and I'm afraid you can't blame the internet for that.

Newspapers will not die though. Most of their stories are sourced from the same organizations which source on-line content (reuters, associated press, et al), and they will continue on in their ineptitude and failure to fact check or investigate, as usual.

Re:"Soon?" (3, Insightful)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190931)

Newspapers will not die though. Most of their stories are sourced from the same organizations which source on-line content (reuters, associated press, et al), and they will continue on in their ineptitude and failure to fact check or investigate, as usual.

Aye. And also newspapers are (have always been IMHO) "influencers". They are bought and maintained with the idea of having a way of influencing public opinion. In a democracy, public opinion is a source of money, so the owners of newspapers are richly paid beyond the advertising revenues, in ways not reflected in the accounting books. In short, we are always reading about newspapers dying, but I seem to detect no lack of them in the newsstands.

Re:"Soon?" (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191195)

Newspapers will not die though. Most of their stories are sourced from the same organizations which source on-line content (reuters, associated press, et al), and they will continue on in their ineptitude and failure to fact check or investigate, as usual.

Aye. And also newspapers are (have always been IMHO) "influencers". They are bought and maintained with the idea of having a way of influencing public opinion. In a democracy, public opinion is a source of money, so the owners of newspapers are richly paid beyond the advertising revenues, in ways not reflected in the accounting books. In short, we are always reading about newspapers dying, but I seem to detect no lack of them in the newsstands.

The same could be said about AM Radio.

Re:"Soon?" (4, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191025)

I would argue it was even before that when the 'news' papers ( and TV news ) lost all morality and no longer reported news, but instead lies and agendas.

My realization came in the late 80s after witnessing an 'event' in person and noticing that NOONE had the truth afterwards. Each news outlet twisted the facts to suit their own agenda. But if you were not there you would never know.

Re:"Soon?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191405)

I had that exact same epiphany about 20 years ago. I've been on the "inside" of three major stories in my area, none of which were controversial, and all three times, the news outlets got just about every detail wrong. That was when I stopped reading the corporate news.

Since then, things have simply become worse. Newspapers aren't "dying" because of the internet, they're "dying" because they have become worthless except as outlets of corporate & governmental propaganda (which is why they will never truly die. Gotta catapult the propaganda, you know.)

If news organizations actually did competent journalism, they wouldn't be in the straits they are now.

Quick Answer: Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190749)

When was the last time you saw a town crier?

i hope so (3, Insightful)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190753)

last I checked my local newspaper was easily 50% to 70% just ads

and the content trashy with alot of spelling mistakes

at least on the web we can adblock the noise

Re:i hope so (4, Insightful)

hierofalcon (1233282) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191163)

This is the primary reason that the newspaper industry must survive. Ad revenue is what supports the media industry (whatever media you choose to pick). Everyone ignores ads to a greater or lesser extent. But it is easier for the publishers to sell companies on the idea that their ads might be seen in a physical media than an on-line media. This is the primary reason that the TV industry is so against the time shifters - be it VCRs or more modern variants. If my commercial is zapped, why should I pay to put it on your show? It's a point that is even harder to sell on-line.

When there is no revenue from ads, the subscribers won't pay a high enough price to cover your operating costs. How many on-line news sources do you actually subscribe to? How many do you subscribe to if the "cost" is nothing more than an on-line registration? I'd guess pretty few. So you are a content leach. That works fine for you, since there are still enough people paying money in print (or cable TV subscriptions, or on-line equivalents) to pay people enough to produce content that they can distribute in its entirety or in reduced form to the on-line world.

If the revenue flow ceases to exist, there isn't going to be much content worth reading. As things become tighter, you can be assured that those providing content will seek to protect it further. The cost of litigation is something that the on-line bloggers haven't had to deal with much yet. You can rest assured it will happen.

Those editors have lots of job functions. I'll be the first to agree that the quality of the newspapers has declined somewhat. The editors might be just as good, but the reporters ability to write correct English has declined. More mistakes are getting through edit. Another important job function is to keep the content fresh. A particular blogger may have an agenda, but if he or she never extends beyond that agenda - do you keep coming back? A third job function is to keep the paper from being sued for libel. That is another litigation expense that the on-line only crowd hasn't had to deal with much yet.

On-line will always have a place. It is convenient to find news about a particular subject during the day when the newspaper is not at hand. But at the end of the day of looking at a computer screen for 8 hours, I'd much rather sit down to a nice local newspaper and a nice global newspaper to read the pieces of news I'm interested in. I personally can't stand the talking heads on TV blathering the same 1 minute sound bite every 15 minutes. I'd much rather skip around and read what I want from print.

Re:i hope so (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191231)

'last I checked my local newspaper was easily 50% to 70% just ads

and the content trashy with alot of spelling mistakes...'

How did you notice?

FbAGORz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190755)

Year* 3ontract. project. Today, as also dead, its You need to succeed

I doubt all newspapers are... (3, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190759)

...I honestly would expect a death to printed pornography before the death of the printed newspaper.

Re:I doubt all newspapers are... (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190965)

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2003/11/61165 [wired.com]

And that's 2003... it's got worse since.

Re:I doubt all newspapers are... (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191051)

>>>Goldstein stopped publishing Screw magazine and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,

Well that's a loss of a fine publication. Boy. Our civilization will never be the same without "Screw" magazine. ;-) But seriously there's still a market for porn, but you can't just publish any old trash. You have to select the most artistic photos - something worthy of hanging in a museum, not some junk you tossed together in 5 minutes. If you make the photos artistic, you'll can still sell them in book form.

I stopped buying Playboy for that reason. It only costs $1 an issue - trivial - but the quality is not there. I can find better quality at a site like domai.com, which does cost more but it's simply better artistry.

Re:I doubt all newspapers are... (0, Redundant)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191213)

According to the link it contained "tongue-and-cheek" articles. Is that supposed to be "tongue-in-cheek", or is it something else? On second thoughts, I'd probably rather not know.

How about the debt load (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190773)

OK, newspapers have their problems, but the biggest problem with the Tribune is that Sam Zell loaded it up with an unmanageable level of debt when he bought it.

The Tribune is more an example of how raiders like Zell enrich themselves during a leveraged buyout than an example of a failing newspaper.

Re:How about the debt load (4, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191325)

OK, but there are plenty of other examples. The Detroit Free Press and News just announced that they're canceling home delivery of the paper, except for Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. If you live in Detroit, the time-honored tradition of sitting down to breakfast every morning with the local paper is over. They're still going to update the web sites, so technically Detroit is not without a "daily", but this is an ominous sign.

Everyone's talking about how the advertising model isn't working, well what this says is that the subscriber model isn't working either. That doesn't leave many funding models to try... let's see... government subsidy, pledge drives and tip jars, billionaire sponsorship, bake sales, criminal enterprise, and "... ???? ... Profit!"

Ad revenue is a bad model (5, Insightful)

DinZy (513280) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190781)

Ad revenue cannot and should not sustain newspapers or television. We really need to figure out what is important to have in our society and start ponying up money to support it. I would like to see more money going to services like PBS and NPR to expand that quality of programming into a local printed publication. I have to admit that I very rarely read a paper, but I do listen to NPR pretty much every time I am in the car and I recognize that the bulk of their programming comes from news discovered by print journalists.

Go ahead and tax people for it and give the papers away. If there are no reporters out there to dig up the interesting stories that don't qualify for the sensationalist 10PM news shows then we are in danger of losing that part of our history. It's time people stop thinking about themselves, and making a quick buck on ads by catering to the lowest common denominator and start thinking about what they can do to add value to the quality of life for the entire human race.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190847)

Go ahead and tax people for it and give the papers away.

Would a government-owned news reporting company be more biased than what we have now? Is the BBC worse than CNN or FOX News?

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (5, Interesting)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191049)

Would a government-owned news reporting company be more biased than what we have now?

That really depends on how the government decides to run it. It's simplistic to think that a government will always run things in the worst way possible, even if that is often the case. Ultimately, the question is, "Who is the government afraid of, and what does that person (or those people) want?" If the government is afraid of nobody, you get a propaganda arm. If the government is afraid of the voters, then you get what the voters want, whatever that may be.

Is the BBC worse than CNN or FOX News?

Absolutely not. The BBC is miles ahead of CNN or Fox News or, as far as I can tell, any other mainstream media outlet in the US. The Beeb is known for joyfully and viciously biting the hand that feeds it. The government doesn't like it, and often there are news stories about the gov threatening to pull funding, but I think (I don't live in Britain) that people just wouldn't tolerate it.

I watched the US Election coverage on the BBC (online stream) and the difference was amazing. It was also funny to see the American talking heads taking a beating when they got called on some of their more blatant departures from reality. They simply had no idea what it was like to be interviewed by an intelligent, skeptical person who wasn't prepared to swallow any bullshit. And the BBC people were actually being nice.

Government-paid television doesn't necessarily mean government-controlled television.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (4, Insightful)

Zwicky (702757) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191365)

Don't forget too that BBC News also covers things that are shameful for the BBC itself, such as the fines [bbc.co.uk].

I think the BBC is one of, if not the, most impartial news source around, personally. Certainly far better than Fox News etc.

But then, I've always had trouble believing what anyone like Nancy Grace, Bill O'Reilly, Diane Dimond et al have to say given their very confrontational tone of voice and quickness to anger when they are called on their views, or are otherwise contradicted. They would say they are hard-hitting. I would say they are hot-headed egotistical scuzzbags.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190891)

I do not want to support what you support. I'm perfectly happy without TV and getting my news on the internet without any level of burden to tax payers save the .gov sites.

Go ahead and tax people for it and give the papers away.

Why? Everytime I go see a free paper on one of typical newspaper vending machines, most of them are still there. People don't value them because they see it's free and figure it translates to cheap or not worthwhile. Also, many people take those free papers and not read one word, but only because newspaper is good for cleaning glass, starting fires in stoves, packing material, etc.

Also, editorial content will be compromised soon enough. Parts of the audience will say it's a great paper, but then demand sports coverage. Then tax dollars go toward reporting, to me, something worthless, games and whatnot. One man's trash...

Your solution - a free paper - is going to a problem that is not there. If a person wants to be, he can be well-informed rather freely online. But many people don't want to be well-informed, they want their cartoons and sports and that's it. You are trying a solve a human tendency in the wrong way.

It will also be obsolete within 10 years. Cheap wifi-capable ereaders will be available and print newspaper market will be like the buggy whip industry in the 1890s. Days numbered and going down fast.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191035)

Everytime I go see a free paper on one of typical newspaper vending machines, most of them are still there. People don't value them because they see it's free and figure it translates to cheap or not worthwhile.

I'm not too bothered about free newspapers because they're normally designed for most of the content to be read within 5-10 minutes. If I'm on the bus I'll pick one up, read everything of interest and leave it for someone else, but I wouldn't take it home because I'd just end up throwing it out. I'd rather just buy something like The Independent, which has gone from 60-70p to £1 within a relatively short space of time, but is still worth it because it contains a lot to read and in-depth stuff which isn't as common on the net.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (2, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190945)

Ad revenue cannot and should not sustain newspapers or television.

Utter and complete nonsense. Almost every TV company in the free world is ad supported. Most usually successfully, until recently anyway. You are aware that many TV executives get paid in the millions?

The only reason Newspapers and TV companies are struggling is because they are failing to take advantage of new technology. They cling to 1950's business models -- Neilsen ratings, distribution and syndication methods that have remained unchanged for decades. And they're catering to parochial local audiences -- completely failing to understand global reach.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that there are not TV companies broadcasting shows to global language groups, regardless of nationality. There is no reason people in Australia, nor the UK should wait 3-6-12 months to see new shows first broadcast in the US. There is no reason -- in a global world with international companies that deals can't be struck with advertisers to reach audiences better. The internet allows then to target market, and understand audiences much better than the print, and cathode ray based media. This will even allow cult and special interest shows to be saved, and not canceled too early in their run -- since they will be counting on a global audience -- not just an unrepresentative sample in one country.

There is money to be made out there from supporting entertainment by advertising. MORE money than is currently being utilized. It is entirely their own fault that Newspapers and TV nets are struggling. The sooner they realize we've all moved in the 21st Century the better.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191329)

The internet allows then to target market, and understand audiences much better than the print, and cathode ray based media.

Not necessarily. Targeting is not just by want, but also by time and location. Print and TV are location based, due to physics.
For example, if we take a fast food restaurant: By necessity, location based. Corporate wants to run a trial sandwich, only in a certain area, for a certain period of time. It will advertise that new McStinky only on the local channels, for a specific price. Hence, only the local people see it. With internet based ads, your connection can come from anywhere, to anywhere. So a lot of people will cruise down to their local McScotsman, looking for the new McStinky sandwich. And the person behind the counter will have no clue.
Same with snow tires (Mexico vs Montreal), sandals in February(Miami vs Bangor), or speedboats (San Diego vs Iowa).

Yes, they are screwing it up. But there are a LOT of considerations on where and how to spend those ad dollars beyond just 'format'.

Re:Ad revenue is a bad model (2, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191065)

>>>. I would like to see more money going to services like PBS and NPR

Then give them more of YOUR money; not mine. I don't want my dollars going to support those pro-government, anti-individual (i.e. socialist) organizations. If you like PBS/NPR, I'm happy for you and fully support your decision to give money to them. But Not my money. My money stays in my wallet.

News just in... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190785)

Newspaper writer writes about how newspaper needs more money.... Nothing to see here

Or... (1)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190787)

The newspapers could adapt to changing technology. Although, it looks like they are already. I see more and more newspapers becoming online-only, for better or worse. The "major" ones will probably continue print editions, but they'll be only on Sundays or something. How this will effect people who can't get the Internet, I don't know, but it's one of the few ways they can stay profitable.

news from the 1990s (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190807)

Newspapers have been declared dead every few years for the past 15 or so. When I went to university, one of our projects was to come up with suggestions on how newspapers could leverage all the new tech (Internet was new at that time) so they could "survive".

Look, they're still around. I guess they'll still be here in another 15 years.

Re:news from the 1990s (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190871)

Newspapers have been declared dead every few years for the past 15 or so.

I see your 15, and raise you 10. When I started to work in 1985, the "paperless office" was "just a few days away." Hewlett-Packard begs to differ. Every time that I enter our printer room, I am amazed that a rubber boat full of Greenpeace protesters is not there; we seem to go through paper like nobody's business.

Look, they're still around. I guess they'll still be here in another 15 years.

Yepp, seems like FORTRAN and COBOL, rumors of their death have been grossly exaggerated.

Nobody's saying they'll just "poof" (2, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190953)

Nobody's saying they'll just go "poof" and just cease to exist, one day. There most certainly will be newspapers around in 15 years time. But how many?
I used to read a newspaper in the metro, and even got the paper delivered to my mailbox; but it's even easier to just read it on one of my 24" screens instead of having to go down the stairs to pick it up. And in the metro I just read the news on my $smartphone.

Evolution (1)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190809)

What we are really seeing is the death of the single media outlet.

In this age you can't just work one media. Newspapers as they were are gone. TV news as it was is gone. Web news even will cease to exist.

What we will see is more of the type of CNN MSNBC were you have journalists that do blog articles, video news reports and print articles all at the same time.

In the new age you're a content creator whatever media the content is transmitted by

mod 30wn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190813)

EFNet serv3rs. culture 0f abuse

I heard this 10 years ago - the death of the free (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190827)

internet. Once micropayments came along (which back then was always real soon), everything on the internet was supposed to become pay-for. Every website you visit would deduct a fraction of a penny from your browser or something. This would be "necessary" to pay for inherent costs. What they didn't count on was that on the internet, oftentimes, if someone doesn't provide it free, someone else is willing to step in and grab that audience.

Also, since many newspapers are little more than repackaged AP and Reuters news, looking at the NY Times for guidance - I don't know what their value proposition is supposed to be. This past election cycle, because I paid attention to politics - I have seen how the old media doesn't even pretend to present the world as it is but just their packaged version of it - they do a bad job of reporting things of niche interest - 3rd parties, other people running other than the "top 2" candidates that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, etc.

Considering this, what value do they bring to the table? If they don't carry the most general of news, someone else will. And since they don't cover anything in depth (not every interest in audience, by nature), most easy to find forums, blogs, etc will cover a subject deeper and be more informative.

All I see is someone bickering that their pre-packaged, repackaged jack-of-all-subjects, master-of-none is becoming obsolete by the fact that it's not the pre-1980s anymore when people relied on print to stay informed.

Re:I heard this 10 years ago - the death of the fr (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191121)

I agree. I bet that most people stick with newspapers because they are a "Tradition" or habit they've gotten used to.

Re:I heard this 10 years ago - the death of the fr (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191369)

Also, since many newspapers are little more than repackaged AP and Reuters news, looking at the NY Times for guidance - I don't know what their value proposition is supposed to be.

This ignores the point of the article - that the bedrock, actual "sources" of news such as the NYT are also in dire financial straits [gawker.com]. Once they are gone (and by that I don't mean "cease to exist," merely that the quality nosedives because there are fewer investigative journalist slots) then all the secondary news sources you decry - and their readers - will be high and dry. The blogs and forums are just cud-chewers. Somebody still has to do the interviews and take the photos for them to ruminate over.

AP broke the newspaper industry (5, Insightful)

Ken D (100098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190833)

I get two newspapers each week.
One is going broke, one is doing fine.
One is skimmed, one is read front to back.
One is full of AP content, one has no AP content.
One is full of news I have already seen online, one is full of fresh stories.

Most newspapers are trying to churn out stories for the AP, hoping that their (version of the) story gets picked up and brings in some money. Meanwhile they have to pay for the expensive incoming AP stories, which they use liberally in their papers to justify the cost, filling their paper with barely readable, highly edited and condensed, dreck that has been widely available elsewhere.

Newspapers that will survive are covering the stories that no one else is covering.

Re:AP broke the newspaper industry (4, Interesting)

superid (46543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191167)

I get two as well. One is a big regional paper and one is a tiny paper covering just two local towns. I read the comics and op/ed page in the big paper. I get nothing more out of it. All the "big" stories are old news because I've read them all online.

I do read the little local paper cover to cover and I always learn something new. I get full police reports ("mary and jimmys son was arrested again"), planning and zoning ("the wilburs got denied a permit to turn their garage into a rental apt...hah!"), legal ads, editorials about local politics, etc. I get way more out of the little one and I couldn't care less if projo.com dies.

Perhaps the giants are dying (4, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190897)

Newspapers used to be the main source of aggregated of information about current events; they were few alternatives. Now we have a wide variety of sources for the same information; and don't need a daily paper to satisfy our information needs. As a result, the business model will change

You'll still need services such as the AP; but how the information is used will change. I would expect to see the multi-channel news organizations who can combine television, radio, and internet (blogs, websites, streaming data) to be replace newspapers as the primary daily news source.

As a side note, I expect more DCMA take down notices as organizations seek to protect their IP from being redistributed by outlets that don't pay for it.

I'd also expect to see local papers thrive - they can cover stories of limited interest beyond their communities, and deliver targeted ads for businesses. In addition, I'd expect specialty papers that target specific audiences (such as sports fans) to thrive because they can do more in depth and broader coverage of a narrow topic than say the AP. And of course, USA Today because every major hotel in the US buys a ton of them.

Re:Perhaps the giants are dying (2, Interesting)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191087)

In my town of roughly 30,000 people there are two newspapers. One of which is the traditional type, owned by some big conglomerate, that carries mostly wire stories and syndicated columns. In addition to being chock full of ads, you have to pay to get the thing.

The other one is published locally, by local folks, and mostly runs stories about local topics and columns from local writers. It too has lots of ads, but is doled out for free every week.

Guess which one of these is in financial trouble?

The problem big, traditional newspapers have is a lot of their content is focused on national level news. This is perhaps because they sell to people in so many communities.

But thanks to the Internet (and to some degree, 24 hour news channels), I can read that news before they print it. I suspect a lot of people are starting to do this. I see little value in buying something I've already read much of the content of.

Re:Perhaps the giants are dying (1)

bledwhite (1306577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191227)

In London there are now at least two free newspapers reliant on advertising. I can't walk two foot without being handed one or seeing it laid down on an underground seat. The feeling that it's free means it is disposable, and has no monetary attatchment, hence dumpable. I'd hate papers to go out of business but i hate the paper they use too.

Chicken and the Egg: Ad Revenue and Content (3, Insightful)

starfire-1 (159960) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190901)

The comment above points to ad revenue drying up as one cause for the demise of print news. While reduced ad revenue may cause newspapers to fold (pun intended), it is not the cause of the reduced circulation and therefore lower ad revenue.

Content is everything and as our society has become more politically polarized, the bias in American news media has become more and more obvious. This leads potential readers (like me) to simply not subscribe. Just as when I see movies with certain politically vocal stars, I simply avoid the box office. This is America and actors can be advocates and newspapers can be political advertisements, but choices have consequences and I sometimes wonder if these groups understand that you can't diss half of your audience without consequences.

I am a computer guy, but I hate to read long pieces on line. I would actually like to subscribe to a regional paper if I really did think that I was being offered unbiased news. So although I think that online media contributes to the demise, once again I do not think it is the cause.

The simplest cause for the demise of newspapers: content (or lack thereof).

One word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26190919)

Bail out.

er... two.

People interested in news aren't stupid (4, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190929)

Investigative newspaper reporting died over a decade ago. Newspapers today are nothing more than a collection of press releases.

The investigative reporters are now almost exclusively online. You no longer need a distribution network, and printing facilities. A good investigative reporter can setup a web site fairly easily, and if he/she is any good, the ad dollars will follow.

Take thetruthaboutcars.com - those guys called the demise of the American autos years ago - way before mainstream media. They were able to perform the in-depth financial analysis that the journalists at major newspapers simply ignored until recently.

Investors know this as well. Not many investors I know read newspapers any more for news. By the time the newspapers report it; the information is almost useless.

Goodbye newspapers. A generation of kids is growing up seeing the newspaper as obsolete as the typewriter.

-ted

COMING SOON - Ampaper - coutesy of your government (0, Flamebait)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190977)

From the article:

>>>Papers now seem to be the equivalent of the railroads at the start of the twentieth century--a once-great business eclipsed by a new technology.

And the government solution to this was Amtrak, a centralized monopoly over passenger rail that sucks billions out of taxpayer wallets. Government will likely do the same with newspapers and introduce an "Ampaper" to keep alive an industry that should disappear and be replaced with online reporting.

Is the Internet any good for local news though? (1)

static1635 (1231648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26190993)

I work for a company that produces local newspapers, I'm not sure if they will die as quickly. How else will advertisers reach a local audience? How else can anyone read local news? Does eveyone who reads the news have the internet?

Same story (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191007)

I also work for a newspaper, and I was shown stories from the advent of radio how radio was going to kill newspapers. Then TV was going to kill newspapers. Then the internet was going to kill newspapers. IBM also said computers would give us a paperless office.

Mainstream reporting is biased, full of crap (3, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191019)

I don't think we need to look much further than the most recent Iraq war to see how dangerous the current system is. All of our major media outlets are owned by very large corporations, many with defense interests. The press has always curried the favor of the deep pocket interests of the day. It's very instructive to look back at old press clippings on topics where we today know what the facts were ("Was the war a bad idea?" "Was this person corrupt?" "Will this harmless additive kill us?") and see how calm, certain, and forthright the pressmen were in their defense of the special interest. They have the air of the level-headed man of reason, putting our concerns to rest. Of course, they were dead fucking wrong but hey, we're all human, right?

It's true that the current blog model uses press articles and news reports as talking points to begin their own articles, those articles foster discussion threads, etc. If those dry up, more original reporting will need to be done.

But you know what? We've already reached that point with the mainstream media. Investigative journalism is expensive, nobody wants to pay for it. Most news articles these days are just repackaged press releases. Nobody wants to rock the boat and lose their jobs. If Bush says that Iraq has WMD's, if your editor tells you the organization is backing the administration's line because it's good for business, then you're writing about the WMD's. If you won't, there's a thousand other cub reporters just dying to get their shot at the big leagues.

I predict what we'll eventually see is all news sourcing going directly online. There's a lot of capital tied up in a traditional media operation be it the printing presses, distribution chain, and the useless overhead of the parent corporation that demands the news outlet be a profit center. Crossing my fingers, I hope we see a shakeout where traditional media outlets cannot compete with the price model of the net, they fall apart, and what replaces the AP feed is a loose federation of small-time private journalists who have small enough operations they can make their money off of the banner ads. They would peer with other sources to create their own wire feed and we see a more economic business model.

Re:Mainstream reporting is biased, full of crap (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191145)

Only on Slashdot could someone argue with a straight face that the mainstream media isn't Left enough...

Re:Mainstream reporting is biased, full of crap (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191265)

Only on Slashdot could someone argue with a straight face that the mainstream media isn't Left enough...

And only an anonymous coward would defend the MSM without having the balls to put his name to the claim.

Re:Mainstream reporting is biased, full of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191421)

How would that change the merits of my statement?

But hey, that's pretty much what I expected. People like you rarely care about the merits of anything -- you're always looking for the scandal, the implication, the conspiracy...

Rosebud! (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191029)

Since the advent of the internet, we are no longer subjected to have biased news of television, radio, or newspapers. If we want to have an argument with anyone, there are plenty of on-line forums to do it on, without getting censored by a party line of a particular newspapers editor. The age of buying influence by what is printed in the press is doomed.

Add to that, the internet also allows people to follow news from around the world, and are no longer restricted to the news the local/national newspapers (or other media) wish to push out. And if it's specialist news like on Slashdot, then it will always be more current on-line than any print media.

Newspapers are dying, but they only have themselves to blame for not keeping up with the modern world.

"Getting what we pay for" (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191105)

That, as the summary seems to indicate, may actually be more of a problem. Newspapers took on more and more advertisements in order to keep reader costs down (and/or line their own pockets), which was likely to their detriment, in my opinion.

Just yesterday, I fired off an e-mail to Wired, explaining that I would no longer be subscribing to their magazine. I had recently finished the Oct 2008 issue (I'm a bit behind), and I was quite annoyed at the amount of advertising in it. After I finished reading, I went through and counted all the ads: of 126 pages, about 117 were ads. More than 50% of the magazine was advertisements, some set up to look like it was regular content.

My wired subscription was cheap--$10, I think, for ten issues. A good deal, at least at the time. The renewal cards I've been getting offer the same thing. But I am not willing to put up with so much advertisement, even at that price. I would be far more likely to re-subscribe if the magazine were 25% ads and $20/ten issues.

While it's been rare that I pick up a newspaper lately, they seem to have fallen to much of the same--rarely do you get a full page of news, it's usually at least a quarter of ads if not more. Add in some sibling posts' comments on the cost and high use of AP, and the newspaper doesn't even become worth the cost it is now. Considering the popularity of Adblock, I'm not the only one annoyed by the prevalence of advertisement, and as time goes by much of my generation will join me in that sentiment.

Re:"Getting what we pay for" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191401)

Hasn't wired always been a pile of shite?

Ad sponsored (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191107)

Traditional modern newspapers have always been ad sponsored, just like television and radio.

What is killing newspapers is the rise in advertising cost versus a dwindling readership.

I used to use newspapers to advertise my old cleaning business, and 20 years ago, they
worked fine.
Professional Cleaners - xxx-xxxx (phone number) - cost $20.per month, published daily.

Today :

Professional Cleaners - xxx-xxxx costs $340.00 per month, published everyday.

Simple economics, they priced themselves out of the market all the
while losing readership. Yes, the cleaning business was a side-line,
not my real job. That $340.00 dollars represented income from 4 clients
per month. So basically 4 homes were cleaned for free each month.

Not a good business practise.

Everything is doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191115)

It is just a question of time.

Well, I subscribed to one this week (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191119)

I did something probably few Slashdotters have done this week, subscribed to a newspaper. The local rag in my area runs $60/yr and had fairly decent content so figured it was worth it.

The way I see it, any content, online or offline that's worth paying for will still get my money.

Quality Value vs Cost (1)

tarunbk (1051880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191129)

If the newspaper has good quality, people will want to read it, provided the cost is reasonable... how does any newspaper justify 2-2.5$(wsj, financial times) even if they office some good insight.... newspapers have to change from reporting the news to analyzing and providing good opinion, consequences and literary language... Everyone knows the news from TV the night before, or within 10 minutes of it happening online... many newspapers still do good in India because they identified the above and changed their format and content to suit the same... The reader should feel like reading cover to cover trying to understand everything and feeling good and informative about it... quality value at a reasonable price ( a quarter, like many papers already are)...

Put those goats entrails back, youre not qualified (1)

tezza (539307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191133)

The Tribune group collapsed because of a load of toxic debt they could not refinance [timesonline.co.uk].

It is quite fashionable for failing businesses to ignore their own poor performance. Instead they blame it on unforseen circumstances and present themselves as innocent victims of a global cataclysm.

A side effect of this fashion is that some commenators, like this article, are writing off whole industries and business models. They augur from the business collapses. Unfortunately these auguries ignore the more mundane reasons, too much debt, bad profit projections, in favour of some system wide collapse.

IMO the last few years, say 2005 have been mainly credit driven. So although there is undeniable shrinking of advertising revenues, this shrinking is dwarfed by the awful reality of spending shrinking back to sensible levels.

I work at a British regional paper and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191139)

I won't be surprised if, in a years time or less, we start to see bankruptcies and closures here. At least one US-owned firm is making cut backs like never before, with announcements of job cuts being made on a weekly basis. Many of the issues raised by the New Yorker article could be applied to the local press in Britain.

While some national titles, in particular the Guardian and the Telegraph, recognised the potential of the web in the late 90s, most British papers either treated their websites as hobbyist side projects or didn't bother at all. The situation was worse in the local sector, where despite massive consolidation taking place over the 1990s large firms found themselves without the skills or the insight to make the web work. Sites were generally a slow mess, designed by managers who don't understand what the internet is and failing to take advantage of the content provided by the said paper's employees. Only now are some sites working with Google News, and still many local sites look practically amateurish compared to national alternatives.

This failure to establish a strong web presence early on has squandered any relevance they had with an entire generation of people. The BBC were allowed to become the destination of choice for almost everything; Gumtree is doing for British classified what Craigslist did in the states. I don't know anybody who, on looking for a new flat, would pick up the evening paper. Similarly I don't know anyone who'd look at the said paper's website.

Now this all comes at the same time as advertising revenues are consistently falling by 20 per cent month on month. The other day, when flicking through a major regional title, I spotted a full page ad for a tiny off-licence. They are getting desperate.

The sad and scary thing is if we lose the Birmingham Mail, the Bristol Evening Post, the London weeklies, there would be no good source of news on local government and services anywhere in Britain. Even with the scrimp on resources, regional papers are brilliant at keeping tabs on the goings on at town halls. Remove that check and balance and councillors may start to believe that no one is watching them. And there is simply no one else to come in to take their place - the BBC isn't allowed and ITV can't afford it. If local papers die, then the public sphere might just die with it.

Only conservatives buy newspapers. (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191143)

I used to subscribe to papers, but I cancelled them all because they are all liberal rags. I don't need people preaching to me all the time, so I just said see ya later. I can't count how many right leaning people have cancelled the NYT, Washpost, etc, or just don't even buy them. I guess that strategy to move left and pick up the liberal masses has a problem. Liberals don't want to pay for much, not even their own workers, and so, liberal papers are failing. On the other hand, if I do reasonably well, I will probably pony up the extra money and subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. The web site is excellent, the writing is good, and i hear things about industry leaders and doers, rather than the progressives who seem to want to tear it all down.

Re:Only conservatives buy newspapers. (2, Interesting)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191305)

Heh, heh. Well, I'd say Tistork's subject line is spot on, but there's the great melting pot for you. I quit reading newspapers years ago because they unreflectively mouth the Neocon Proto-Fascist line. Quit watching network news and listening to public radio and switched to the BBC and Paris for audio and video and the internet for print for that matter.

Met a proud liberal around the Reagan years who started a campaign of spray-painting "Lies" on our metro newspaper boxes. According to Tistork, he must have surely been one mixed up dude biting the hand that fed him the propaganda he should have so dearly loved.

Re:Only conservatives buy newspapers. (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191463)

Ah the "liberal media".. sigh.

There's a big reason why you're wrong about this. Although reporters are overwhelmingly liberal, it's editors and publishers that decide what actually makes it on the air or in print.

No, more likely you are participating in the common sport from conservatives where, if something doesn't agree with your ideology, you attack the messenger instead of seeing the truth and through the use of clever labeling.

Here's a great example, conservative's use of the term "activist judges". Judges don't bow down to the public or popular whim, they interpret the constitution. So if they rule on something that doesn't agree with conservatives, the name calling begins.

For other clever labeling see the following...
Right to Life
Coalition of the Willing
Partial Birth Abortion

The list goes on and on... and you sir are full of shit.

Classified adds (1)

Panspechi (948400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191155)

Most people don't realize this but classified adds are going way down for the past years. A few websites offers the service for free and this was a big revenue stream for most papers.

Analogous to music (4, Insightful)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191175)

....SOMEONE has to create the content. The blogosphere (and hell, even slashdot) mostly points to someone else's content. Joe Blogger isn't going to be doing any in-depth investigations and that is the foundation of journalism. One can look at how superficial how TV journalism is to print journalism...and then realize that the blogosphere offers insight and nothing else.
Content isn't going to come with compensation.

What does this mean for Google & TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191199)

If newspapers survive on advertising revenue and so do Google and television, then doesn't it stand to reason that they should also be suffering from a drop in revenue?

btw, here in Melbourne, Australia, some of the local big-name newspapers are now *outsourcing* sub-editor jobs and others to *India*. Now that's *interesting*. Wonder if the NYT/WSJ will try that if they haven't already?

Re:What does this mean for Google & TV? (1)

A.Chwunbee (838021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191479)

*outsourcing* sub-editor jobs and others to *India*.

Oh ruddy hell, innit, mate? Today, in wery fine speach, mayour of Wollongawoolloga was saying he is not haveing one doubt that permitting builting of new naughty-nauthy knocking shop will be good for local economies...

Change the print format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191237)

One reason why I don't buy newspapers is the large format. Papers like the Boston Herald are more reader-friendly (magazine type format) and are easier to peruse. Try reading The Globe or NY Times on a plane, with someone right next to you.

If they change the print format, I'd buy them.

The print format itself is otherwise a leftover from older times, and needs to go away.

Porting Journalism to the Web (2, Interesting)

miller60 (554835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191287)

We'veindeed reached the moment at which Internet news is putting print news out of business. The problem is that much of the genuine value found in print publications hasn't been ported to the new medium. Most web-only publications are making money, but still can't afford to hire trained journalists or underwrite investigative journalism. The reason you see less worthwhile investigative work in print is that these units were easy targets when newspapers cut staff.

We're near the tipping point at which online news sites need to hire or acquire the talent that supported print publications. The recession will speed the demise of newspapers, making lots of talent available. Can web companies afford to seize this opportunity and invest in staff? It can happen. The Politico [politico.com] is one example of this opportunity.

But the bottom line is that there are a number of lean years ahead for journalists, who will likely face pay cuts as they shift from print to online.

newspapers are cool... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191311)

There's nothing I like to do better on Saturday and Sunday morning than sit down on the lounge floor and leaf them them. There's no buttons to click, no viruses to be afraid of, no cookies or anyone records to keep track of what I read and how often. I don't have to worry about whether or not flash is enabled or worry about my browser (or desktop) crashing while I'm reading. That there aren't 1001 "comments" from other readers (of which 99.99% are drivel) is just a bonus.

I don't get dry eyes from flicker or the glare of the screen, no poisonous chemicals in batteries to make them work, etc.

During the week, I can sit down and read the paper over breakfast (because it gets delivered.) I don't have to worry about coffee getting into the keyboard or needing to be careful about splashes of milk near it either. What's more, I can look down at the paper, which also happens to mean it is easy for me to look at what I'm doing with my food. I can then pickup said paper and read it on the train, in the toilet or if I'm feeling lucky, whilst walking.

The stories I read in the various big papers here are better than anything I can find in web based equivalents. They often get "exclusives" and the quality of journalism makes slashdot look like a high school project.

For those who think that the "advertising model" is doomed and they should find a better business model - guess what? nearly every "free" service you have online (slashdot, sourceforge, google), is funded through advertising revenue. If the printed media starts to feel the heat through a drop in advertising revenue, doesn't it stand to reason that other avenues will too? In that regard, maybe the printed media is the "canary in the coalmine" for other advertising based business models...

Now after I'm done reading the paper, I can recycle it, burn it (for warmth), cut bits out, archive it and know that I can still read it in 20 years, and so on. Printed media is vastly underrated.

Oh those poor "news" papers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26191317)

Newspapers and the editors who run them have long been bought by different people.

"In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding, and powder interest, and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press....They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers... An agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers." - U.S. Congressman Oscar Callaway, 1917.

Newspapers can increase circulation by ditching the propaganda and carrying factual content. I have no sympathy.

Re:Oh those poor "news" papers (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191505)

Newspapers can increase circulation among people like me by ditching the propaganda that we don't agree with and carrying propaganda that we like.

Fixed that for you

"intensive reporting" (1)

Badbone (1159483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191393)

Sure, intensive. Newspapers are going away not because of the technology, but the viewpoint. Readers are tired of reading the exact same viewpoint day after day. Theres no journalistic integrity anymore. No such thing as professional objectivity.

In my local paper, there are eight stories above the fold. One of them is Double murderer to get another chance. Another chance? Thats objective? The whole paper reads like an editorial page.

Its not the technology, its the content.

The death of "news" (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191419)

News, at least in the U.S. died a long time ago.

Now news is more about finding an outlet that validates one's political viewpoints. Thank heavens I can watch BBC news for my world news and more relevant to this thread, read the Economist for my news needs. The Economist is print and I gladly plunk down the 120.00 to have it delivered.

The death of newspapers and print is due partly to the digital revolution but also due to the fact that the product just sucks ass. Compare Time magazine of today to Time magazine of 20 years ago.

And broadcast news? It's very sad when Britney Spers psychological state warrants more news coverage than genocides.

Edward R Murrow would be rolling in his grave...... if he weren't cremated.

Re:The death of "news" (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191493)

Now news is more about finding an outlet that validates one's political viewpoints

Regarding validating political viewpoints, this is more in regards to Fox than any "liberal media" conspiracy.

2 other problems not just ad revenue (2, Interesting)

J05H (5625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191439)

Ad revenue is only one of 3 issues causing the collapse of the newspaper industry. While classified ads and print ads provided the bulk of newspaper's income, there are two other factors involved in recent problems. Think of advertising revenue as the "incoming problem" - here are the "outgoing problems"

Home delivery is the weak link in distribution. The Boston Globe, for instance, maintains a huge fleet of delivery trucks that bring papers not just around the city but throughout coastal New England. I'm not sure of the exact costs, but it has to be millions per year, to deliver dead trees to people's doors and stores. This is a hold-over from a time when media was a one-to-many form of distribution, it has almost no relevance to today's media markets or readers. Netbooks or e-readers shipped with custom software (NYTimes "Reader) or just the local paper's website as a landing page would make more sense.

The third problem is the readers and our changing habits. Most people don't have the time to read a newspaper or won't make the time - for younger people it interferes with Facebook & gaming, for middle-aged people it interferes with being overworked on that adjustable-rate mortgage train. The only reliable newspaper readers in demographic terms are retirees.

All of this boils down to one thing, one thing most papers have missed completely: relevance.

How to take massive institutions, industrial-era institutions if you've seen the presses running, and make them into nimble, 21stCentury, Internet-centric businesses? It's a tough nut to crack and so far I'm not seeing any of them actually make it work. It's weird because I personally love reading the news from a broadsheet but it's an anachronism when the entire world's news is available at my fingertips, 24/7. The world simply does not wait for the morning print run. When news impacts "after deadline" the morning newspaper is already out of date when it lands in the driveway.

-Josh

depends on the demand curve (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191441)

Less advertising revenue just means they'll have to charge more to subscribers. The higher price will reduce demand, further shrinking subscription revenue and reducing the amount their remaining advertisers are willing to pay. However, at some point an equilibrium will be reached, assuming the demand doesn't shrink to the point where it's impossible to turn a profit.

Newspaper Niche Disappearing (3, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191477)

To quote Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, "Print is dead."
25 years too early, but it was a very insightful prediction nonetheless. The problem newspapers are facing is that they have historically filled a very specific niche: rapid distribution of largely perishable information, i.e. "news". In the beginning, advances in communication technology only helped newspapers, as they were expensive and only a well funded entity could afford to transmit and receive information over long distances. TV and radio were the first to threaten newspapers, but they actually ended up just exploiting a new market for the most part--- "live" news--- as they're limited to the relatively low-speed communication inherent to the spoken word. Newspapers held an advantage purely in bandwidth. Large quantities of printed information on cheap pulp delivered to your door beat anything TV or radio could offer in sheer volume of information.

Then came the publicly available Internet. Essentially at one stroke, newspapers were pushed to second place in bandwidth. Even a 56Kbps dialup connection could feed the printed word faster and in greater volume than a printing press. Newspapers were doomed, but they didn't know it yet. It took some time for people to catch on. I personally put the tipping point about four years ago. For decades the local newspaper where I live has run an annoying telemarketing division to badger people into getting the local paper. About four years ago, I started answering their entreaties with "no thanks, I already read that paper online for free". These telemarketers, who historically had a scripted response to any excuse, could only respond "oh, OK, thanks for your time"! When a Los Angeles Times telemarketer can't come up with a reason for you to subscribe, the jig is up.

different media or companies (1)

Maarek Stele (7770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26191503)

Newspapers are not doomed, they will change from paper to another media. For now the alternate print is the Internet and cell phones. next will be large screen digital devices which will be reusable. like the Kindle from amazon, you can buy a device to read the new and your subscription would automatically be updated everyday.

If this isn't the case, than television news companies will buy the papers, so they'll have printed news.

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