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Former WaPo Staffer Rob Pegoraro Talks About Newspapers' Decline (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year ago | from the paper-is-too-20th-century-for-words dept.

Media 79

Newpapers. Remember them? The printout editions of websites like NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, and Rob Pegoraro's former workplace, WashingtonPost.com? Rob still writes for USAToday.com and its printout edition, but as a freelancer, not on staff. He's one of few newspaper layoff victims who has managed to hustle up enough freelance work to make a decent living. He's even on Boing Boing and Discovery.com. Where else? Tiny shots on various TV news programs, and one-off articles here and there. He's a hard-working and prolific guy, and he's had an insider's view of the decline of the newspaper industry and the rise of the online news business. In this interview he talks about both -- and adds a few cautionary notes for Rob Malda, the Slashdot co-founder who is now a Washington Post employee.

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The reasons have disappeard. (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44353843)

People have bought newspapers over the years for many reasons, and thanks to the Internet, almost all of them have dried up. I can get news from any of a hundred or more countries from the comfort of my computer. No longer am I captive to newspapers to tell me how yesterday's stocks did, find a used car, or look up movie and stage showtimes. Meanwhile, local print news outlets have been bought by major news companies and turned into watered down versions of their parent company's product, with a few local fluff pieces.

If there's a niche for print news left in the world, they'd better find it quick. If they don't, someone else will find it and put it on a website.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44353915)

The future of newspapers is to follow whale oil lamps and buggy whips into history, but with a lot more bitching and moaning along the way.

-jcr

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44353967)

No, there will be an equal amount of bitching and moaning. It will just be done from a soapbox that more poeple will notice than anyone did with the buggy whip and whale oil lamp crowd.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44354577)

The trouble is...when there are no more newspapers, what will we use to light the charcoal in our chimney starters for our grills?

What will we use as a cheap source of paper to wrap things in for a move while packing?

What will people line their bird cages with?

What about the free coupons that come pre-printed in the Sunday paper?

Oh well, I use it for all those (except no birds)....and I like to get up Sunday mornings, make some coffee, Irish it up a bit, and read through the Sunday paper, and clip food coupons....and often, use it to light the grill in the afternoons.

You can't do that with an iPad....

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about a year ago | (#44354789)

In my area I think retailers realize there are too many consumers who don't get a newspaper, so a bundle of advertising is bulk-mailed every Thursday for free. It provides flyers for most of the area supermarkets, a few hardware and department store flyers, and occasionally some coupons. And a lot of it is still printed on newsprint. We also get the advertising envelope bundles like Valpak and the like.

By the way, I don't think newspapers are even a particularly cheap source of paper, considering how thin many local newspapers have become. You can get a better deal buying a ream of paper at an office supply store, but I admit it won't burn as well or protect your packages like crumpled newsprint.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44355337)

Yep. In my area it's called "the shopping news"(though it covers the entire county, each city gets a custom version for their stores flyers) which is crammed full of flyers from all the stores in the area. The Tuesday ed. is pretty lightweight maybe 1/8" thick. The Thursday ed. is right up around 1.5" thick, sometimes 2-3" thick depending on the number of flyers crammed into it. The local businesses have been using it for 20-30 years now, since the local paper charged so much to put ads in or include the flyers. Plus it pays the kids who deliver it well. Right in the $200/mo range for a route of 150-200 homes.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44355193)

1. The papertowel you cleaned or seasoned your cast iron pan with.

2. they sell really stuff for this at that pet store, likely cheaper than a modern newspaper.

3. Internet

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44355525)

I get plenty of junk mail every week. Serves all the same purposes as newspapers for me..

-jcr

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44356069)

The trouble is...when there are no more newspapers, what will we use to light the charcoal in our chimney starters for our grills? What will we use as a cheap source of paper to wrap things in for a move while packing?

There is always the Yellow Pages for that.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Snotnose (212196) | about a year ago | (#44356683)

The trouble is...when there are no more newspapers, what will we use to light the charcoal in our chimney starters for our grills?

Grocery store receipts. No kidding, buy a can of tomato sauce and get an 18 inch long receipt, plus an "at the register" coupon for tampons.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44357697)

Perhaps you should consider getting a job so you don't have to get evicted and move so often that your worry about the local paper disappearing is that you won't have packing materials.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44360485)

Perhaps you should consider getting a job so you don't have to get evicted and move so often that your worry about the local paper disappearing is that you won't have packing materials.

There has been a LOT of moving post Katrina, chasing the contract jobs around...just now settling down really the past 2-3 years.

I've got quite a good paying job actually.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44358881)

Didn't some iPhones have batteries spontaneously burst in to flames? You could use those.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year ago | (#44359323)

..use it to light the grill in the afternoons. You can't do that with an iPad....

What makes you think that? [geek.com]

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about a year ago | (#44353983)

As much as I would like to use many websites to line a bird cage I don't think it can be done.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44354285)

Horizontally-placed monitor and a squeegee. Show some frickin' adaptability.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about a year ago | (#44354433)

People have bought newspapers over the years for many reasons, and thanks to the Internet, almost all of them have dried up. I can get news from any of a hundred or more countries from the comfort of my computer.

But not local news. By local I don't mean city, but neighborhood or small town. That's the niche that newspapers will more and more fall into. Leave the big picture to the internet, but until everyone, and I mean everyone, uses internet enabled readers, paper is still the most efficient way to get the small but important stories to every person on the street.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44354631)

That would seem to vary by locale, your Royal Highness the Prince of Cups. I am told there are some locales where this is indeed the case, but my experience has been quite the opposite. Seldom do I encounter a local news source that provides these important stories. In fact, I was remarking how poor the roads were in our county, and suggested to my wife that we should petition our local Count, but his contact information could not be found. Would Your royal Highness happen to have that information for me?

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about a year ago | (#44354803)

But not local news..

Well patch.com is trying. I can't say they're yet but at least you get some local news out of their sites.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#44354671)

Meanwhile, local print news outlets have been bought by major news companies and turned into watered down versions of their parent company's product, with a few local fluff pieces.

That probably has more to do with the decline in newspapers and news magazines than the internet.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44354857)

Are you trying to argue that the two are not connected?

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44355169)

Quality of content in many local papers has simply withered through the years. Couple that with the 24hr up to the minute news cycle first introduced with cable news and now the internet, and the paper simply cannot compete.

What newspapers need to do is move away from the endless twitter feed style of news and focus on more indepth stories and investigations. The kinds of investigative reporting that the rapid fire news cycle doesn't have time for.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44355227)

If there's a niche for print news left in the world, they'd better find it quick. If they don't, someone else will find it and put it on a website.

How about simply having a pile of news available about stuff that one may not be interested in, but to simply have it available?

Sure you can read it on a website, but if you "pull" information (request it), people tend to just pull the things that interest them.

This leads to narrow mindedness and basically filtering of news. Take for example, /. - there's a pile of stuff /. does NOT cover, but one ought to know about if nothing more than general interest or to be a bit more "worldly" and informed about the world. (And judging by many conversations, the /. crowd is probably highly misinformed on a lot of things, even things that concern them, like IP laws).

Hell, when something not tech related gets posted on /., the first few comments are invariably "not news" or "irrelevant" - expecting that they'd read about it elsewhere (when in all likelihood, they won't).

A newspaper, though, has all the articles right there on the page. Perhaps an interesting photo or headline captures your interest, it's easy to skim it just to see if it's of more interest.

Or perhaps there's something particularly big happening because a lot of pages are dedicated to it - what was just a few links on a website suddenly takes a whole new form when you see pages of ink about it.

And hell, if nothing more, sometimes it's good to see just what the public cares about - because if you can't relate what you're saying to what they care about, you're like an unclicked link on a new website.

And yesterday's news is valuable - because it covers stuff that you probably missed or not cared enough about in real time. I don't obsess over the stock market to want to know it to the minute, but I might want to know how it did yesterday overall Or maybe it was something interesting that influenced the markets but I never would be interested otherwise. Or find out what's going on in the middle east which I don't care about knowing now, but if there's an article I could skim easily without having to click to read it, I would.

Newspapers also provide a good summary of what happened yesterday for stuff I didn't care about knowing immediately, but could wait a day. It's like the girlfriend who got woken up by her boyfriend on 9/11 and asked "does it affect me now?" and went back to sleep. Because it wasn't going to affect her, and she'd find out about it some other way. Even the next day would be sufficient.

Plus, most news websites are just terrible.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44360049)

Don't get me wrong, I generally agree with your reasoning, the problem is that it's only valuable if people use it. If not, it's useless. A book on a shelf, for example, is completely useless unless someone takes it off the shelf and reads it. What you're describing is all kinds of information existing that generally won't get purchased, much less read.

I think it's a stupid reality, but it's still reality.

He's talking about journalism, not paper (1)

jfengel (409917) | about a year ago | (#44355351)

TFA isn't really about the dead-tree edition. He's talking about news-gathering and -publishing in general.

And there's still demand for that, but people have grown to think of that as "free". It continues to exist, paid for by online advertising, paywalls, and the remaining print subscribers. He's talking about the limitations and futures of those things, and what that's going to mean for news-gathering.

Re:He's talking about journalism, not paper (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44360099)

There's also the fact that people haven't been impressed by what they've seen enough to pay for more of it.

There's good reporting out there, but when most people think of "news" these days they think of the incessant coverage of the Zimmerman trial, baseball suspensions that are even slower and more boring than baseball, and whatever vacation Barack Obama is on during any given week. You know, the same rubbish they report on every day. It's not even new stories.

Relevance matters. Interest matters. Reporting on the same stories constantly isn't news, even if you present new but minor details buried in more of the same information as every other day.

Re:He's talking about journalism, not paper (1)

jfengel (409917) | about a year ago | (#44362641)

It's kind of weird. People are desperate for news, lots and lots of it, but they seem to care little for quality. They'd rather have wrong news now than right news tomorrow. They'd rather have Big Picture news that presents issues in cosmic ideological terms while ignoring the dull stuff that's generally far more relevant. And they seem to be willing to tune into the same Newsflash over and over, even if there isn't actually anything new in it, like hamsters at a feeder bar hoping that this press is going to give them some kibble.

It's entertainment, not news. The actual news is important, and it is in there, but they can't afford to produce it without larding it with junk. If somehow there were a way for actual journalists to sequester the actual news behind a paywall, there might be a market for it, but instead what happens is that it gets reported and then endlessly repeated, with additions of junk to fill out the time.

The closest thing I can recommend to actual news is to go to the wire reports, or even better to just get a quality weekly magazine which at least isn't desperate to pad its content with new RIGHT NOW. Both approaches have deep flaws, but it's sure as hell better than 99% of daily newspapers and 100% of televised reporting.

Re:He's talking about journalism, not paper (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44364925)

People aren't after news. They're after information. They don't care what kind, whether it's useful, whether it's new, or whether it's even true. I genuinely think information addiction will be a legitimately recognized disorder before too long.

Re:He's talking about journalism, not paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44360367)

The trouble is that it's hard to have an adult conversation on Slashdot when it comes to topics like this one. Frankly, it's a waste of time.

Muckrackers (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#44357907)

when was the last time a major newspaper or network broke a political scandal that wasn't sex. When was the last time they drove it home? Where were they when the Weapons of Mass Destruction turned out to be a few dud rockets? Where were they when Glass Steagal was gutted? Where are they when voter suppression is a fact of life in most of the Southern United states?

They don't matter anymore because they're wholly owned subsidiaries of corporate America. Why would I care about anything they have to report? Why would I give a rats ass about the Zimmerman trial if I wasn't in that community? Did it need round the clock coverage while a bill is working it's way through the house that would change how immigration works while adding 10 million new workers to an already depressed economy?

Re:Muckrackers (1)

schnell (163007) | about a year ago | (#44358305)

when was the last time a major newspaper or network broke a political scandal that wasn't sex.

Do [washingtonpost.com] you [businessweek.com] actually [guardian.co.uk] read [thedailybeast.com] newspapers [ap.org] , or do you just bitch about them?

Where are they when voter suppression is a fact of life in most of the Southern United states?

Why would I give a rats ass about the Zimmerman trial if I wasn't in that community?

Do you even listen to yourself?

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year ago | (#44359305)

Community weeklies distributed for free in street boxes seem to be hanging in there.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44364541)

That's true, but often these exist almost solely for their classified sections and are more likely to be ad-funded than based on subscribers.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44361215)

The bullshit on the web is NOTHING like good long-form investigative journalism. Some papers used to have multiple people working on stories for MONTHS. We are losing a LOT and we will be worse off for it.
CNN.com used to be actual news, but it mainly seems like a tabloid these days. "Girl has trouble with big breasts at prom" is about their level now.

Re:The reasons have disappeard. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44364685)

Tell you what, if the print media starts providing us with some good long-form investigative journalism on some consistent basis, I'll concede your point.

Newpapers, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44353845)

Newspapers. yes.

Re:Newpapers, no. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44354647)

Well, I was watching an interesting class yesterday on creativelive.com...about food photography.

The instructor did talk about his job and about others that had been fired from staff at places like the NYT (I think he's the main shooter for food for NYT)....

He said while it was sad to see people lose those jobs, it *did* open new opportunities for the former employees AND for new and younger folks to come in a prove themselves as freelance writers and shooters.

Frankly, I like the idea of freelancing it...yes, you have to do a bit more hustle for jobs, but what's wrong with that?

I've done plenty of 1099 consulting in the past for IT, and I like the freedom and $$ can can be earned that way. You have to stay on top of your game, sure....and have to be more of a people person and network, sure, but what's wrong with developing those traits?

It sure is nice to NOT have to fscking "earn" your vacation hours, or sick leave (when contracting, you figure those into your bill rate, and take off when YOU want to)....and since you wisely incorporate yourself, you get to write off so many things on your taxes, and setting up a nice HSA (not use it or lose it like a FSA) you can sock back a ton of money pre-tax for your routine medical needs....

Sure, it takes a bit more work, but if you're willing to hustle a bit more, it can be extremely rewarding.

Re:Newpapers, no. (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about a year ago | (#44355345)

It sure is nice to NOT have to fscking "earn" your vacation hours, or sick leave (when contracting, you figure those into your bill rate, and take off when YOU want to)

Unfortunately, freelance writers do not typically get to set their own rates in any significant way. You're generally paid by the word, or by the assignment, at a rate predetermined between you and your editor (and your editor holds all the cards). I have never heard of a freelance writer being paid hourly. And when the editorial budget gets squeezed and the rates go down, you always have the option of taking your talents elsewhere -- if you can find somewhere -- or you take what you're offered. In this market, there is seldom any room to negotiate.

Can I use newspaper as cat food? (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year ago | (#44353853)

So, it has come to this.

Dick Jerkers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44353859)

Jerkin' Dicks.

Re:Dick Jerkers (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year ago | (#44355233)

> Jerkin' Dicks.

There are better alternatives.

Transcript? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#44353861)

A transcript would be awesome...

Re:Transcript? (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | about a year ago | (#44353899)

Try the "Hide/Show Transcript" link below the video (it's javascript only)

Re:Transcript? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#44354965)

Ahh thank you. I have JS disabled, but thanks for the reply.

Re:Transcript? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44354413)

Unfortunately, the current generation of young adults no longer has the patience to actually READ something, their skills having been atrophied by too much TV and gaming. Look for the next big idea in communications to be either a direct jack or focused wireless beam from the internet directly into the brain.

Read All About It in the Video (4, Insightful)

unamiccia (641291) | about a year ago | (#44353891)

Ironic that you can't actually read Mr. Pegoraro's comments. Sometime in the last five years or so it became easier to videorecord something than it is to write the same something down. Which may have something to do with the decline of newspapers.

Re:Read All About It in the Video (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#44354101)

It takes much longer to watch a video than to read an article.

On Yahoo/CNBC, I read the article over listening to the video.

Perhaps there is some way to feed the video into Google Voice.

Re:Read All About It in the Video (4, Informative)

Roblimo (357) | about a year ago | (#44354861)

"Hide/Show Transcript" - right below the video.

stop printing old news (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44353949)

why should i pay $$$ to read about stuff that happened a day or two ago? seriously, one time i saw one of the NYC tabloids have a sunday baseball game on the cover of their TUESDAY paper

News is supposed to be about new stuff happening NOW

Re:stop printing old news (1)

chipperdog (169552) | about a year ago | (#44354075)

If they have in-depth analysis or other perspective worth reading people will buy it, maybe not so much the box scores...Sports Illustrated and Sporting News did well until their content creators were cut...

Re:stop printing old news (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44354183)

its the same thing. baseball trade deadline is July 31. all the blogs are alive with trade rumors

Sports Illustrated will probably print these rumors in September and the actual trades right about the time one of the newly traded guys is looking at his world series ring

Re:stop printing old news (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44354683)

why should i pay $$$ to read about stuff that happened a day or two ago? seriously, one time i saw one of the NYC tabloids have a sunday baseball game on the cover of their TUESDAY paper

Well, one thing they used to do, is in-depth, investigative reporting. You used to have guys like Woodward and Bernstein (sp?) that would go out, and dig and probe for stories, especially about our governmental leaders.

Sadly, for many reasons, that seems to be a thing of the past and the one thing that print and even TV media have lost.

It seems now, they are happy to parrot the press releases that our "Fearless Leaders" see fit to publish to the masses.....

...and no one seems to question the leaders anymore, and the few that do, are braned loons and troublemakers often, and kicked to the curb as far as access goes...

:(

Re:stop printing old news (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#44354711)

why should i pay $$$ to read about stuff that happened a day or two ago? seriously, one time i saw one of the NYC tabloids have a sunday baseball game on the cover of their TUESDAY paper

News is supposed to be about new stuff happening NOW

Why have a sports section at all? Why not just print the box scores and be done with it? Some people really do appreciate in depth reviews and analysis even if they already know what happened.

Quite interested to read this article... (1)

mutube (981006) | about a year ago | (#44354025)

...now, if only I could figure out which of the 9 randomly linked words in the summary actually points to it.

If Rob Pegoraro is this bad at getting traffic perhaps he should have been fired.

A few comeback stories out there (1)

chipperdog (169552) | about a year ago | (#44354037)

There are a few stories where newspapers have comeback, kind of like the local hardware store after a Lowes or Home Depot comes to town, they have to bend their business to fit want the customers want to survive... http://www.couriernews.com/view/full_story/23040254/article--Guru--contends-newspapers-have-future [couriernews.com]

Treeware rules for local news (2)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about a year ago | (#44354985)

It's easy to follow the big national and international events with on-line sources. If anything, it's hard not to have them shoved down your throat (I'm almost surprised /. doesn't have an article about the Kate Middleton giving birth to the new heir; there has to be a techy, geek angle somewhere). What isn't so easy to get on-line are the local interest articles that you didn't know you were interested in. Things like the local city council discussing a change to zoning that will allow a Wallmart to be built across the street from where you live and road "improvement" projects that will make your currently pleasant commute into a trip through hell. Also, there is usually lots of coverage of local and state level politics that we probably all should pay a lot more attention to. That sort of thing.

What on-line lacks is the ability to flip through the news pages linearly. Most news sites are arranged in a tree-like structure that allows users to drill down to a specific article on a particular subject if they know what they are looking for. What they don't allow you to do is quickly scan articles looking first at the headline and then at the next couple of lines if the headline is interesting to determine if you want or should keep reading. And who goes looking for what local road projects are planned that will mess with their commute before the "road closed" sign shows up?

Cheers,
Dave

Editorial bias, anyone? (2)

techvet (918701) | about a year ago | (#44354121)

So many of the papers leaned to the left so far, that many moderates and conservatives said "Forget about it." Amazing that he makes no allusion to that as a possible cause. I have subscribed all these years but am aware of how many lefties staff the newsroom and the editorial boards.

You are high (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44355515)

Seriously, stop huffing.

Ex-Newsie here. Our editorial board tried extremely hard to be objective. The problem is that Fox "News"/Drudge/etc are so far to the right (into looney land) that any centrist looks like a tree-hugger flower child.

Not to worry, though. I suffered through years of reading letters to the editor (the ones that aren't printed), and we kept a tally of the "you're just a liberal rag, wah, I wish we had two newspapers" letters. You could tell when Fox "News" got their audience frothed up because we'd get a significant bump in wingnuts.

(As an aside, there were some regular--clearly disturbed--folks who would write every day or a couple of days a week. Their stuff never got printed, but they kept it up for week after week after week...)

Re:Editorial bias, anyone? (1)

robp (64931) | about a year ago | (#44355555)

I didn't mention that because I don't buy that as a cause. For one thing, if you think the Post is that much of a liberal hangout, try asking around, say, Daily Kos about Post editorials and op-eds--or how the paper covered the prelude and start of the war in Iraq a decade ago.

For another, have you looked at the political demographics of the Washington area? I don't think tilting to the left would lose you that many readers here.

What destroyed my "reverence" (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44354169)

In a nutshell, the lead-up to the Iraq war. This all happened as I was just getting into politics and at the time I was a voracious consumer of news, up to even trying to read legislation (not with much success as I have no legal training). It was blatantly obvious to anyone who followed the news at any beyond a cursory level that we were all being conned into a war and all of the major news outlets were in on the fix. Either they were enabling or simply too afraid to dissent. Even the mighty New York Times had Judith Miller serving as a government mouthpiece.

It seems to be even worse now. I gave up on 60 minutes after watching Lara "look at my tits" Logan do everything short of fellate an Army general in an interview where he was selling unpopular US military strategy.

Re:What destroyed my "reverence" (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year ago | (#44355231)

...I was a voracious consumer of news, up to even trying to read legislation (not with much success as I have no legal training).

That's okay. After all, legislators don't read it either.

Re:What destroyed my "reverence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44357567)

Well, if the rule is that you have to pass the bill to find out what's in it...

rob@twp.com (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#44354575)

Rob was basically the technology editor at the post for over a decade. I occasionally worked with him via phone calls and emails, but he and Mike Musgrove took me to lunch one day at The Madison [loewshotels.com] across the street to talk about how they wanted their ISP database set up. Walking into The Madison for lunch is kind of like walking into The White House, decor-wise, so it was kind of overkill for what we were looking to accomplish, but I was a kid at the time and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

My first thought when I learned Rob had left The Post was, "he just lost one of the shortest, coolest email addresses in the world." Back in the late 90s, I was proud of my @washingtonpost.com email address, but envious of Rob's @twp.com address.

I remember talking to Rob on the phone one day as he was writing his first article about Google. It must have been '98 or '99. We were talking about something else, but he was so excited about Google he kept getting sidetracked and telling me I had to check these guys out. I specifically remember him saying: "These guys are going to rule the world."

Glad he's doing all right in his post-Post life.

Re:rob@twp.com (1)

robp (64931) | about a year ago | (#44355283)

Thanks, man! I was only able to get that address because nobody else was using the twp.com domain for anything--and the alternative was using the Notes system the Post only managed to put down earlier this year.

Who's being interviewed? (3, Interesting)

Cyrano de Maniac (60961) | about a year ago | (#44354709)

Geez. Mr. Pegoraro barely gets a word in here and there. And on top of that the whole interview gets bogged down in uninteresting irrelevant crap about circumventing paywalls and AdBlock. What could have been an interesting interview with Mr. Pegoraro regarding the paper to phosphors transition of the news industry was squandered with Roblimo telling us how cool and smart he is.

I don't often complain about /., but this is the interview quality I'd expect coming from an average high school freshman. Completely not worth your time to watch.

Re:Who's being interviewed? (1)

TechnoGrl (322690) | about a year ago | (#44355753)

My thoughts exactly! The person doing the interviewing has essentially zero interview skills - this is the very first /. video that I have ever watched. From the lack of quality content it likely will be my last. An extremely fascinating guest completely wasted by a high-school level interviewer.

Re:Who's being interviewed? (2)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#44357019)

Mr. Pegoraro barely gets a word in here and there.

Agreed. Let's have a do-over.

How about an "Ask Rob Pegoraro About Traditional News Decline" story where people submit questions, moderators bring the cream to the top and Rob selects the ones he feels he can best answer? He'd be totally in his element because he did almost exactly that in The Post's Live Online discussions [washingtonpost.com] (where readers would submit tech questions and he would select the ones he wanted to answer). He wasn't at DigitalInk/WPNI when they started the transition to digital (for that you'd want to talk to Don Brazeal [umn.edu] ), but he was there in The Post newsroom when they brought it back in-house and got to see the effects of staffing cuts as the newspaper responded to declining circulation and ad revenue.

Ask away! (1)

robp (64931) | about a year ago | (#44358585)

Well, maybe not this deep in the thread, where people won't see it. And maybe not this week, when I look to be running in circles on a few stories all due at about the same time. But I'd be happy to do some sort of extended Q&A here.

(I'm not cool enough to do an AMA on Reddit, right? :)

Re:Ask away! (1)

vpness (921181) | about a year ago | (#44360453)

Rob - 2nd the original post. Go back and read the transcript. It was you and whoever Robin is talking vaguely about inside stuff, and making noise about circumventing paywalls. What I'd expected you to talk about: 1 - when did you see the decline of wapo coming, and what did you do to position yourself ? or were you just surprised one day when folks were shown the door ? Were all the old school folks at wapo blind about craigslist, etc ? did anyone *try* to educate the execs at wapo back when the internet was coming to age in the 90's ? 2 - how can a free press (as in press, not beer) in the western world still afford to pay experienced professionals to go places, and reliably and legibly report on stuff when their words are given away for free (as in beer). You've manged to assemble a free-lancers living from various sources, is that the way the future will be ? Why would anyone that wants to make a living go to college as a reporter ? Can you propose a - tech based - proposal that the geeks at /. can go implement over a weekend?

Re:Ask away! (1)

robp (64931) | about a year ago | (#44366161)

I could do one of those old-fashioned, non-video, 10-questions /. interviews sometime. How do we go about that?

The *really*real* reason newspapers declined is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44354751)

Media consolidation. Break the monopolies and you will see local newspapers flourish.

Media monopolies = bad for democracy.

Gave Up On It (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about a year ago | (#44354893)

Older guy here. I grew up reading the papers including The Washington Post (and the Star before it went under) and locally the Denver paper (the Post?) I currently do pick up the local city paper when I find it.

I do understand that ads drive the business but since the loss of the Classifieds, the papers have inundated us with ads including under the fold and sticker ads on the front page that rip the page when you try to remove it. The ads inside were the worst though. A single column or less of news (mostly from some other paper or the AP, specially selected) and the rest was an ad or two or more. And the middle four pages were completely ads. Even the editorials were mostly from other papers (in the Denver paper).

And the delivered paper would end up under the car or in the bushes or in the puddles assuming it arrived at all. (Honestly that didn't happen all that often but often enough to be noteworthy and annoying).

I changed to a 4 day subscription (Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun) mostly for the cat box material :) Last year I finally just stopped my subscription. I get regular coupon packages and coupon mailers in the mail and the various grocery stores send me targeted coupons based on my purchases.

[John]

The Idiocracy has won (1)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about a year ago | (#44354975)

The Idiocracy has won; take a look at what passes for news, it's just junk. Let's see, the standard "Cure for (insert horrible disease) is close at hand!". That's always popular. Or how about "West coast whore and her baby-daddy blah blah blah". And so on.

These "news" organizations have cut their own throats by cutting their staff, killing investigative journalism, and subscribing to the Idiocracy news feeds.

Great example: I always enjoyed reading a Wall Street Journal when I saw one laying around, so I looked into a subscription and see they have an online version. Cool, I thought, a bit pricey but what the hell. So I give it a try, and then start noticing stories about, for example, how so-and-so's new workout routine got her this fabulous bikini-body that will look great in her wedding dress.

Fuck me. Subscription: CANCELLED! The idiots have spoken, and what they demand is idiocy. Count me out.

NYT and Post are trvial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44355399)

NYT surfing is trivial. It just works with Privacy Mode in IE. (Does anyone surf WITHOUT privacy mode anymore?) It also works with AdBlock integration in the MS content filter.

WashingtonPost is also trivial. Same privacy mode, same AdBlock. I read these two sites all the time with ads blocked. I don't click ads, so they aren't intended for me anyway. :)

Re:NYT and Post are trvial (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#44356137)

NYT surfing is trivial. It just works with Privacy Mode in IE. (Does anyone surf WITHOUT privacy mode anymore?) It also works with AdBlock integration in the MS content filter.

Why do you surf the NYT? If the answer is 'They have content I'm interested in' then I have to ask why you are unwilling to pay to support their writers, servers, bandwidth and everything else?

Former Post employee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44357523)

Soooooooo much misinformation in this video.

Overall, print ad revenue still makes up the VAST majority of the revenue. The decline of the paper's revenue over time has mostly been affected by 2 things:

1. Classified ads - craigslist and other online sources have brought the paper's revenue down to maybe 10%-20% of what it used to be
2. Print circulation - has been steadily declining around 2% per year. The average Post reader is somewhere in their 50's.

Everyone admits that the paywall is not a solution in anyway to the long term revenue problem. Most models have shown that it's mostly a breakeven or slightly profitable strategy, not something that will turn around the company.

It's really quite simple. Print is still incredibly overpriced, and despite advertisers still paying for it, the audience is dwindling. No amount of web traffic, or especially low-CPM mobile traffic, will ever make up for this.

Some other misinformation:
- The Post does not prevent people from using Adblock. I just tested it now without any problems.
- The Post would never remove ads for subscribers. Share of Voice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_of_voice) is still insanely important to advertisers.

Where else do I get local coverage? (1)

dark_glaive (2889319) | about a year ago | (#44357699)

I subscribe to the newspaper because there is no better place to get in depth political coverage for my state and community. Bloggers don't fill the void. TV news doesn't fill the void. Because it's not "sexy" news. It's just the stuff that is most likely affect me on a day-to-day basis. I'm 28, and I support my local newspaper in order to keep my local politicians honest.

Netflix for Newspapers (1)

sup2100 (996095) | about a year ago | (#44358383)

When will the publishers agree to a Netflix like model?

Bye-bye to bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44359065)

I remember cancelling my subscriptions when the mainstream media became a de facto arm of the Democratic Party.
Regardless of my political views, I tired of being propagandized.
Thank you, fellow American taxpayers.
You disintermediated the mainstream media by providing a wide range of opinions that enable rational decision-making.

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