America’s Newspapers in the Cross Hairs

As you are well aware we are now well into the final years of printed daily news. Most all newspapers are losing money, laying off staff, reporters and management. The quality of the news is deteriorating and almost any print news you pick up is jammed with AP filler, fluff or opinion based diatribes. That’s just not news. Still, when a small local paper goes out of print the community is left without a voice.

The baby-boomers still want to read the newspaper, but the other generations would rather get their news on TV in 2-3 minute argumentative segments, through 140 character or less tweets or online. Just recently the Seattle Post Intelligencer and a well-known Colorado paper joined the ranks of the online only newspapers. It does save trees, saves face, and prevents them from totally going out of business.

Still, with advertising revenues in the toilet during the recession it seems many newspapers cannot weather this perfect economic storm. And industry analysts are trying to decide: “How far and fast will newspaper revenues fall?” Good question and it appears we are not at the bottom yet. Currently, consumers are cancelling their subscriptions, tired of the “bad news” and wish to save some money on non-essentials, but it goes even deeper than that.

You see by the time the consumer gets the newspaper, they’ve already heard all the news, so they just scan the paper and toss it. Worse, many papers are pretty thin and someone can scan it in about 10-15 minutes, so they feel it’s hardly worth the cost, even if that costs daily is well under $1.

We should not be shocked that younger readers are abandoning the paper versions of their news, especially with their new cell phones that have so much information on them. Both large and small city newspapers are having a tough time now. Even those newspapers that go to “online only editions” will not be able to make up the difference with lower cost ads, it’s quite competitive online. Which is somewhat surprising because the shelf life online can be quite higher and for much less money for the businesses, and it’s much more track-able as to the number of page views or impressions.

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