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jmcclain19
03-12-2008, 03:48 AM
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003723373

Newspapers have been known for quite some time to be a dying industry, but the fall in the last four years across the nation has been substantial.

Just another medium of communication that will soon go the way of the Dodo.


Exclusive: Charting 4-Year Circ Plunge at Major Papers


By Jennifer Saba

Published: March 11, 2008 4:30 PM ET

NEW YORK In just four years the top newspapers in the U.S. have collectively lost about 1.4 million copies in daily circulation, E&P has found. But since the reported numbers come out every six months, the overall decline for individual papers may not hit home for many. Each fall off is usually in the low- to mid-single digits -- but it sure adds up.

While the industry has lost about 10% of circulation overall in the past four years among the leading papers, some have bled much more than others during the same period, according to an E&P analysis of data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Los Angles Times lost 20% of daily circulation or more than 200,000 copies over the past four years, for example, while up the coast the San Francisco Chronicle's daily circulation dropped almost 30%.

The Boston Globe plunged about 20% and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution almost 17%. The Washington Post took an 8.8% hit. The New York Times is down a more palatable 7.2%.

Most of the top 20 newspapers, as ranked by the six-month period ending September 2007, experienced losses in the high single digits or more looking at the previous four years.

There are some gainers though: USA Today increased its circulation 2% and the New York Post grew 2.3% (but lost circ in its most recent report).

The list compares data from ABC FAS-FAX reports from the six-month period ending September 2003 and the same period for September 2007.

In that September 2003 report, overall daily circulation for the papers reporting to ABC fell about 0.4%, more or less the average decline (then). It wasn't until the summer of 2004 when Newsday, The Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Sun-Times and others admitted to misstating circulation by thousands of copies, that overall circulation started dropping at least 2%.

The scandals caused advertisers and industry watchers to put circulation under a microscope. Publishers began cutting out what is considered "lesser quality" circulation. That type of circulation falls under the category "other paid."

Many newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe began cutting other paid circulation -- employee, hotel, newspapers in educations and especially third party sponsored copies -- hence some of the steep decreases.

The do-not-call list, which went into effect in October 2003, is another reason circulation dropped during the period.

**

PAPER -- Daily (M-F) Sept. '07 - Copies, Gained/Lost Since Sept. 03-- % Change

USA Today -- 2,293,137 -- 46,141 -- 2.1%
The Wall Street Journal -- 2,011,882 -- (-79,180) -- (-3.8%)
The New York Times -- 1,037,828 -- (-80,737) -- (-7.2%)
Los Angeles Times* -- 794,705 -- (-201,133) -- (-20.2%)
New York Daily News -- 681,415 -- (-47,709) -- (-6.5%)

New York Post -- 667,119 -- 14,693 -- 2.3%
The Washington Post -- 635,087 -- (-97,785) -- (-13.3%)
Chicago Tribune -- 559,404 -- (-54,105) -- (-8.8%)
Houston Chronicle* -- 502,631 -- (-50,387) -- (-9.1%)
Newsday -- 387,503 -- NA

The Arizona Republic*, Phoenix -- 385,214 -- (-47,070) -- (-10.9%)
The Dallas Morning News -- 373,586 -- NA
San Francisco Chronicle -- 365,234 -- (-147,406) -- (-28.8%)
The Boston Globe -- 360,695 -- (-89,843) -- (-19.9%)
The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J. -- 353,003 -- (-55,669) -- (-13.6%)

The Philadelphia Inquirer -- 338,049 -- (-38,444) -- (-10.2%)
Star Tribune*, Minneapolis -- 341,645 -- (-38,709) -- (-10.2%)
The Plain Dealer*, Cleveland -- 332,894 -- (-32,394) -- (-8.9%)
Detroit Free Press -- 320,125 -- (-32,589) -- (-9.2%)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- 318,350 -- (-64,071) -- (-16.8%)

* Daily average is Monday-Saturday.

pedro
03-12-2008, 04:12 AM
I'm a big fan of newspapers. The Oregonian, my hometown paper, is exceedingly crappy, it provides maybe 15 minutes of reading at absolute most.

I've gotten the Sunday NY Times for years and while even it tires me these days it's still the best thing going IMO.

GoReds33
03-12-2008, 08:30 AM
Reading just isn't what people like to do anymore. Newspapers need more colored images, and more enticing stories. I like reading stuff on the internet because I know that if it's on the internet, it's probably going to be entertaining.

Caveat Emperor
03-12-2008, 08:51 AM
Reading just isn't what people like to do anymore. Newspapers need more colored images, and more enticing stories. I like reading stuff on the internet because I know that if it's on the internet, it's probably going to be entertaining.

That's an unbelievably sad comment on our society.

As for the death of newspapers -- they died the minute they started offering free content on the internet. Why would I ever take a subscription to the Enquirer or the Washington Post when I can read both papers for free online during my lunch hour (which I do).

macro
03-12-2008, 09:28 AM
I have been under the impression that papers just broke even on hard copies, and that the profit came from the ads. Is that true? If so, my next question would be, are Web ads as effective as print ads?

durl
03-12-2008, 09:55 AM
Could it be they're falling prey to our seemingly less involved citizenry? People want things fast, just the details, no in-depth knowledge of a matter.

Probably. But I believe their biggest problem is content. They have the same stories, almost always from the same angle. Most of the papers listed with the biggest declines are ones that lean most heavily to their particular side of the political spectrum.

Unassisted
03-12-2008, 10:12 AM
I can't get my kids interested in reading much more than the comic section of a newspaper. They'd rather read news online or have Charlie Gibson read them the national news. (Judging from the endless ads for prescription medicine on the national news, I assume that kids don't form a sizable chunk of Charlie's audience.)

I started reading the newspaper when I was in elementary school and have been a 7-day subscriber everywhere I've lived. The newspaper told me the real story on Santa Claus before my parents did. :D

SunDeck
03-12-2008, 10:31 AM
Reading just isn't what people like to do anymore. Newspapers need more colored images, and more enticing stories. I like reading stuff on the internet because I know that if it's on the internet, it's probably going to be entertaining.

So, what is the difference between reading it off the internet or in a newspaper?

Anyway, journalism isn't dying, it's just changing from one media to another. It's becoming less centralized, too, which seems both pretty cool, and maybe a little unfortunate. After all, there is something to be said for a large, powerful news organization- it creates clout and access for its reporters.

What I mourn is the ascendancy of corporate driven news organizations over truly independent news organizations.
A perfect example is the way local television news programs are forced to spend a portion of their air time doing stories about network programming. Funny, I never see a story about American Idol on my NBC affiliate, yet it seems to be news on my Fox channel.

Chip R
03-12-2008, 10:56 AM
A perfect example is the way local television news programs are forced to spend a portion of their air time doing stories about network programming. Funny, I never see a story about American Idol on my NBC affiliate, yet it seems to be news on my Fox channel.


Unfortunately, when people are eliminated from Survivor or American Idol it's news to a lot of newspapers. As in news in the front section of the paper, not in the Life section or TV section or Entertainment section. If newspapers keep treating entertainment like news, they deserve what they get.

I will read pretty much the whole newspaper if I see a copy but I usually only read Reds stuff when I go online to read the Enquirer.

westofyou
03-12-2008, 11:12 AM
Well I get the feeling I'll be reading them until I die.

I'm of the print generation, I love the feel of the paper in my hand, I love to drag one to the bar and fold the pages into readable planes, dissecting the box scores, standings, charts. You can write on them put em in your pocket, take it with you anywhere in the house, into the sun in the back yard in the morning, into the coffee shop when you duck in out of the rain.

No Sunday Times... sad day that would be, I've already seen the death of the old time newspaper centric columnist, Caen, Deplane, Murray, Kael etc....

You'll have to pry it out of my fingers, that or the quarters in my pocket earmarked for the nearest paper box on the sidewalk.

gonelong
03-12-2008, 11:56 AM
Being nearly 40 I grew up reading papers. I began reading the paper daily in elementary school and often read 2-3 a day by the time I was in high school. About 3-4 years ago I canceled all my subscriptions and I don't miss them at all.

GL

BCubb2003
03-12-2008, 11:57 AM
I feel like some guy in a forum claiming to have inside knowledge of front office moves.

The short answer is that all newspapers are afternoon papers now ... but that's not necessarily fatal. There are several specific reasons why papers like the Cincinnati Post have to close, while afternoon papers in small towns and rural areas keep going.

Newspapers will last longer than the conventional wisdom assumes, for the sake of people like WOY, but it will be on a different scale. People no longer sit around the radio in the living room listening to the prize fight, but there's still radio. Some people have been known to pay a subscription for a satellite radio signal. I wonder what Crosley would have thought of that.

The biggest challenge is for papers the size of the Enquirer: Too big to do something that's uniquely local, and not big enough to be the one place to go for everything else.

It would be cool to be the Castellini of a newspaper, though. Own it because you love it, and run it the way you want.

Johnny Footstool
03-12-2008, 01:47 PM
Most newspapers just pick up their national stories from the AP, so it makes no sense to read them for national news when you can access that news from better, independent sources online.

15fan
03-12-2008, 02:37 PM
A few thoughts on the analysis:

1) They are using Mon-Sat circulation. While we personally take the paper 7 days / week, I know a lot of folks who have scaled back to just take the Sunday paper. They (a) have more time to read on Sunday, and (b) save money by skimming news sources online during the week instead of reading the paper. Thus, I'd be curious to see what's happened to Sunday circulations over the same time.

2) Hard copy circulation is down. What about eyeballs on the internet editions? My guess is that there has been an explosion on that side of the ledger. The trick, then, would seem to be how to capture more $ from the web editions. Not just by banner ads, but also by things like subscription access, etc.

3) While it's probably not a big part of the equation, places like libraries are increasingly moving to online subscriptions instead of hard copy editions. Don't have to worry about theft. Takes less space. Archiving isn't an issue. Etc.

WMR
03-12-2008, 02:53 PM
The Lexington Herald-Liberal could go out of business tomorrow as far as I'm concerned.

BCubb2003
03-12-2008, 03:10 PM
Day baseball, natural grass, broadcast television, print newspaper ...

GoReds33
03-12-2008, 03:53 PM
So, what is the difference between reading it off the internet or in a newspaper?

Anyway, journalism isn't dying, it's just changing from one media to another. It's becoming less centralized, too, which seems both pretty cool, and maybe a little unfortunate. After all, there is something to be said for a large, powerful news organization- it creates clout and access for its reporters.

What I mourn is the ascendancy of corporate driven news organizations over truly independent news organizations.
A perfect example is the way local television news programs are forced to spend a portion of their air time doing stories about network programming. Funny, I never see a story about American Idol on my NBC affiliate, yet it seems to be news on my Fox channel.The difference is that it's free. At home, I can sit and read the enquirer without paying the 50 cents to buy it. Sure, the paper is making money off the advertising on the website, but not what they would have if I had bought the paper.

SunDeck
03-12-2008, 03:57 PM
The difference is that it's free. At home, I can sit and read the enquirer without paying the 50 cents to buy it. Sure, the paper is making money off the advertising on the website, but not what they would have if I had bought the paper.


Agreed, but you said:


Reading just isn't what people like to do anymore.

If I'm looking at the Enquirer page on the internet, I'm probably reading.

RedsManRick
03-12-2008, 04:09 PM
I love to read. If people didn't like to read, internet news sites would have flourished the way they have. I just want to read something that's current and intelligent. Recycled, out-of-date, formulaic "news" just doesn't get the job done. Especially if I'm paying for it and have to search through dozens of pieces of unwieldy paper to find the particular thing I'm interested in.

I think the newspaper industry is going to have to change fundamentally due to the fact that it no longer controls the distribution of timely written information. It's an era of specialization. If I want comics, I'll get them at a place specializing in comics, perhaps directly from the source. If I want political news, I'll find a site specializing in up to date politics. If I want an in-depth investigative report, opinions, restaurant reviews, etc, there are places who do that better and who are, now, equally if not more accessible -- and often free. And the things people want to read about are also being changed. People are no longer as interested in reading about what the newspaper editor feels is the top story of the day. Chances are, they've already heard about and if they wanted to learn more, could have done so already. They no longer have a captive audience.

And I'm not stuck to my computer. I can print what I need/want to take with me with increasing ease. Heck, I can even get it on my Blackjack if I'm so inclined. It's simply a business model built on a fee-based product that is no longer unique it in it's ability to serve its purpose.

BCubb2003
03-12-2008, 04:17 PM
Nearly every newspaper has a Web site, so it's not a matter of whether to do online news, but to do it well. As for the paper, the best thing to do is to put out a paper for the people who want news on paper, for however long that lasts. Some people, as mentioned above, still like to sit down with a paper and a cup of coffee and read the news that way. The paper should step up and meet their needs.

But I'm working on my concept of Pizza 2.0: Give away the pizza and sell advertising on the box.

oneupper
03-12-2008, 04:50 PM
I have been under the impression that papers just broke even on hard copies, and that the profit came from the ads. Is that true? If so, my next question would be, are Web ads as effective as print ads?

That's probably about correct. Circulation numbers are key for determining advertising rates. So, like magazines, newspapers will work hard for you to keep your subscription.

Increasingly, you will see "free" papers, given away at Subway stations and other high-traffic places. Europe is full of them, to the point that some cities were considering taxing them (the papers) due to the refuse they generate.

GoReds33
03-12-2008, 04:56 PM
Agreed, but you said:



If I'm looking at the Enquirer page on the internet, I'm probably reading.You're right. I guess I just didn't phrase that right. I wil lread, but just some stories that I want to read. I also don't want to pay to read.

BCubb2003
03-12-2008, 05:08 PM
Just of out curiosity, if you were Castellini and you had bought The Cincinnati Post instead of the Reds, what would you do with it?

KronoRed
03-12-2008, 11:14 PM
Just of out curiosity, if you were Castellini and you had bought The Cincinnati Post instead of the Reds, what would you do with it?

Merge it with the Dayton Daily News and change both papers into a big metro type paper.

jmcclain19
03-13-2008, 04:48 PM
Google Reader and RSS Feeds have pretty much eliminated any need whatsoever for me to buy printed copy any more.

Just about anything I want to read has an RSS feed (except Redszone) and I have 200+ feeds in my Google Reader.

Slowly news organizations are figuring out a way to make money off their web content - it's just taken them way too long to do so. I have a feeling newspapers will be like Radio is decades after the explosion of television. You'll still be able to pick one up, but their function and importance in our daily lives has been reduced significantly.

Still believe that no one comes close to covering local, community news like newspapers. Our free paper for my community of 30k people is excellent and I never miss picking it up at Walgreens every Friday when it comes out. I'm on the extreme suburban fringe of a major metro area and our two major papers might combine for 3 stories a week about our town. That's why I wouldn't bother dropping a dime to pick either up anymore.

BCubb2003
03-13-2008, 05:41 PM
Do you think our Fantasy Post newspaper should try to be bigger than the Enquirer, or should it be a lot of little Florence Recorders?

Chip R
03-13-2008, 05:55 PM
Do you think our Fantasy Post newspaper should try to be bigger than the Enquirer, or should it be a lot of little Florence Recorders?


I know it's a fantasy but the first things you're going to need are a printing press and a way to get the papers to the subscribers. The Post was using the Enquirer's facilities for that and that ship has sailed. If you're going to compete against the Enquirer you also have to take into account that you're not just going up against the Enquirer but Gannett as well.

BCubb2003
03-13-2008, 06:02 PM
I know it's a fantasy but the first things you're going to need are a printing press and a way to get the papers to the subscribers. The Post was using the Enquirer's facilities for that and that ship has sailed. If you're going to compete against the Enquirer you also have to take into account that you're not just going up against the Enquirer but Gannett as well.

Yes, you could have bought the Post for less than a Rule 5 draftee, but turning it into a real newspaper is the expensive part. We'll have a plan for that when we know what kind of newspaper we want to be.

Ltlabner
03-13-2008, 07:31 PM
While I can appreicate the newspaper afficanados, the change in the delivery system is a wonderfull stepforward. It's not without it's pitfalls (as has been noted), but moving to a more decentralized, pseudo real-time system with controbutions from a wider number of sources is far more valuable for delivering news than the old model.

Newspapers are great if you want to read yesterdays news, stock figures, sports transactions, etc. But if you want more current info, in some cases real-time, an electronic delivery system simply makes far more sense. Especially with advances into newsreaders, RSS, internet capabile cellphones, etc.

The electronic media makes even more sense if you travel frequently, as I do. Paying for a paper that will be 2 to 4 days old when I get back home to read it is a complete waste of money and paper. While I could only get the Sunday paper now the time factor is even more of an issue.

Although my poor Grandfather simply can't compute that my computer screen can deliver the news just as his paper does to him. Several times now I've commented, "I read in the news that blah blah blah........" and I can see in his eyes he has no idea what I am talking about since he knows I don't get a paper.

Unassisted
03-13-2008, 07:35 PM
My local newspaper recently stopped providing delivery and newsstand service to a few cities over 100 miles distant because the cost of getting papers there had become greater than the revenue it was generating. The few thousand subscribers who were cut off were hopping mad at being told the only way they could now receive their San Antonio paper is to have it emailed as a PDF file. As fuel prices increase, you have to figure this will start happening in other places around the country.

BCubb2003
03-15-2008, 03:23 PM
While I can appreicate the newspaper afficanados,

Aficionados? I think you're on to something there. The newspaper will come to be for people like the audiophiles who want the analog version.

oneupper
03-15-2008, 03:29 PM
Newspapers' demise will accelerate this year as the economy falters. It will probably be one of the first things people cut out of their discretionary expenses.

BCubb2003
03-15-2008, 04:40 PM
It's RedsZone's fault, really. When I was a kid I got my baseball news from the paper. Now I get it from a bunch of knuckleheads on the Internet.

westofyou
03-15-2008, 04:52 PM
Newspapers are great if you want to read yesterdays news

If I haven't read it yet then it's still news to me.

GoReds33
03-15-2008, 05:03 PM
It's RedsZone's fault, really. When I was a kid I got my baseball news from the paper. Now I get it from a bunch of knuckleheads on the Internet.That's me too. I usto read the paper, but even if I don't want to know about some NBA trade, I get it on here.

jmcclain19
03-15-2008, 06:35 PM
what most people don't know is just how profitable a newspaper typically is. It's one of the more profitable businesses in America - Media companies still make 8-10% profit a year in down markets, twice that when times are good. If they'd re-invest that into their product rather than fattening their wallets - we wouldn't be talking about why they are a dying industry.

I got laid off from one paper because we didn't hit our 12% profit for the year and the newsroom had to be cut by 50 employees. Not that we lost money - it's just that 9% profit for the year was too far off the 12% goal and heads had to roll. That's a great feeling - here is your pink slip because you didn't make our stockholders enough money last year - but thanks for that 9%.

BCubb2003
03-15-2008, 06:57 PM
Yes, for most of the nation's history, Wall Street wasn't the way we got our news. Local cranks and pamphleteers, a printer who wanted to keep his press busy, rich local families and Mark Cuban-type egos. Print newspapers are going to have to find non-Wall Street models.

My job is to be a newspaper's Paul DePodesta. I predict print newspapers will be around for a while, on a smaller scale, like suburban weeklies and shoppers, plus Sunday newspaper flagships, for people who want the reading experience. Meanwhile, we'll get more news than ever, digitally.

RFS62
03-16-2008, 10:11 AM
My uncle was a newspaper editor, and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for all the history and tradition of the newspaper business.

One of my favorite parts of HBO's "Deadwood" was the look at the local one man newspaper office.

I don't get a daily anymore, though. I can't imagine what it would be like without the Sunday NY Times, though.

timmario66
12-09-2008, 11:33 AM
USA Today has increased to $1.00/day effective 12/8. I'm finding it harder to justify paying that price but I'm a newspaper junkie. I just don't like the format of reading it online.

Yachtzee
12-09-2008, 11:55 AM
Yes, for most of the nation's history, Wall Street wasn't the way we got our news. Local cranks and pamphleteers, a printer who wanted to keep his press busy, rich local families and Mark Cuban-type egos. Print newspapers are going to have to find non-Wall Street models.

My job is to be a newspaper's Paul DePodesta. I predict print newspapers will be around for a while, on a smaller scale, like suburban weeklies and shoppers, plus Sunday newspaper flagships, for people who want the reading experience. Meanwhile, we'll get more news than ever, digitally.

What I find interesting is that our local city paper, a suburban weekly, went to a business model whereby it just started putting papers in everybody's mailbox for free. Apparently, it's ad sales went up so much that it was actually able to add a Wednesday edition to its normal Saturday publication. The other thing it started to do was share columnists with the other suburban papers so that it only had its beat writers and editors as its staff. The result is that we get a lot more information on the goings on at city hall, the school board, and the high school sports teams, and a regionalized focus to columns, entertainment and lifestyle offerings.

On another topic, I think one issue that affects newspapers is the recycling problem. I like reading my news online because I don't have to worry about stacks of newsprint at home each week that I have to deal with by putting out with the recycling. When I had a daily subscription, I felt like I was wasting so much paper to read the few articles and columns I hadn't already seen online.

paintmered
12-09-2008, 12:42 PM
News is 24/7 now. Print newspapers can't accommodate that, at least not in the traditional format.

Caveat Emperor
12-09-2008, 03:35 PM
News is 24/7 now. Print newspapers can't accommodate that, at least not in the traditional format.

Ridiculous.

"24/7 News" usually consists of some combination of the following:

A "news presenter" reading headlines.
A "reporter" giving 30-40 second sound bytes from a scene.
An "analysis" segment that consists of one mouthpiece from one side, one mouthpiece from another side, and talking points yelled loudly back and forth.

All of these things, mind you, are in a national format.

The mistake newspapers made was trying to compete with this, while scaling back the things the format does well: long-term investigative reporting, in-depth presentation of facts, civil analysis of issues, and extensive local coverage

The internet and cable television do many things well, but so does a well-run newspaper. Maybe the real problem is that people don't care about those things anymore and would actually rather be shouted at by the TV.

BuckeyeRed27
12-09-2008, 04:19 PM
Ridiculous.

"24/7 News" usually consists of some combination of the following:

A "news presenter" reading headlines.
A "reporter" giving 30-40 second sound bytes from a scene.
An "analysis" segment that consists of one mouthpiece from one side, one mouthpiece from another side, and talking points yelled loudly back and forth.

All of these things, mind you, are in a national format.

The mistake newspapers made was trying to compete with this, while scaling back the things the format does well: long-term investigative reporting, in-depth presentation of facts, civil analysis of issues, and extensive local coverage

The internet and cable television do many things well, but so does a well-run newspaper. Maybe the real problem is that people don't care about those things anymore and would actually rather be shouted at by the TV.


I think what he means is that you don't have to wait until 8am to get the news while you read your coffee. You get your news all the time. You can go online or turn on Headline news or even go to the same newspapers website and get up to date information at that moment.
So if you already read todays news then why would you spend 30 minutes reading it tomorrow morning?

remdog
12-10-2008, 10:36 PM
I grew up with newspapers. As a 7 year old I was reading through articles even if I had to ask my Mom or Dad what the words ment. At 8 years old I was hooked on baseball. I was growing up in Cleveland, OH and it was 1954 and the Indians were headed to the WS. There was a daily column in the Cleveland Press called 'Indian Items'. It was the first thing that I looked for when I heard the (afternoon) paper thud against the door! In my later years, 10-12, I became that paperboy on a bike deliverying those Cleveland Press editions to 50-60 homes everyday. I felt like I was on a mission! :)

Much like WOY I simply like the feel and heft of a newspaper. For years I ate breakfast out, in the same restaurant, and a lot of my enjoyment was taking my time, over breakfast, to read something insightful, odd, editorial, etc.

I've been in SoCal for almost 30 years now. When I first came here, and for many years after, the LA Times did great in-depth pieces on Sunday. They read like a novel and took almost as much time to read. Now, the staff is cut to the bone and most of what's written would have been regarded as filler or not even published in previous days.

I still usually pick up a Sunday Times----not for the stories but because the coupons in the paper are almost always worth more than the cost of the newspaper, and by a few bucks at least. However, I now have a couple of internet sites that deliver many of those same coupons to my computer and give me points for things like dining out, airline milage, hotel points and so on when I use them. I do have to wonder how much longer I will be picking up that Sunday L.A. Times. :(

Rem

paintmered
12-10-2008, 10:57 PM
I think what he means is that you don't have to wait until 8am to get the news while you read your coffee. You get your news all the time. You can go online or turn on Headline news or even go to the same newspapers website and get up to date information at that moment.
So if you already read todays news then why would you spend 30 minutes reading it tomorrow morning?

This is what I meant with my comments. I couldn't have said it any better.

Redsfaithful
12-11-2008, 06:56 PM
I think what he means is that you don't have to wait until 8am to get the news while you read your coffee. You get your news all the time. You can go online or turn on Headline news or even go to the same newspapers website and get up to date information at that moment.
So if you already read todays news then why would you spend 30 minutes reading it tomorrow morning?

Like Caveat says though, this is why newspapers need to differentiate themselves with more investigative reporting and longer format analysis. But most newspapers have been cutting staff that is capable of doing that sort of thing in the last decade, so I certainly don't expect that to happen.

I suppose the time might come in the next few years where some fairly major cities lose their newspapers, but I have to think leaner replacements might spring up, because even in a down economy there's quite a big of ad revenue to be had for a daily city wide paper.

Unassisted
12-16-2008, 03:55 PM
The Detroit newspapers announced today that they're ending home delivery of the Monday-Thursday editions. They'll still be available on the newsstand, but you can only subscribe from Friday-Sunday. Oh, and they're laying off 9% of the papers' workforce, too.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Bold-Transformation-Detroit-Free-Press/story.aspx

Redhook
12-16-2008, 11:30 PM
Just today, I was thinking about signing up for the Cincy Enquire on Sunday's. I read the Enquire everyday online, but I've always prefered the "real thing". It's a shame what's happening to newspapers, but I'm not sure how you stop it. Their dying a slow death and I've definitely contributed to their demise.

*BaseClogger*
02-28-2009, 01:12 AM
A Baseball specific analysis from FanGraphs:


Thoughts On Baseball Media
by Dave Cameron - 2/27/2009 - Comments (25)

Today, the Rocky Mountain News published their final edition. Scripps, their owner, couldn't find a buyer who wanted into the struggling newspaper business, and so Denver has become a single paper town. This will happen shortly in Seattle as well, where the Seattle Post Intelligencer will cease printing in a month or so. The San Francisco Chronicle is in a similar position and is unlikely to survive 2009, which will leave San Francisco without a daily newspaper.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Newsday announced that they are moving away from a free web content system towards a subscriber-pay system in an effort to generate more revenue.

For journalists, the world is changing, and it's changing very quickly. The old business models don't work anymore, as the internet has conditioned people to expect significant content to be delivered online for no additional cost beyond what they pay their local ISP. With ad revenues plunging, media companies simply haven't been able to find a way to make money. Without profit, there's no viable business, and the resources we enjoy go away.

With the Rocky Mountain News folding today, it got me thinking - where is the online baseball community headed? Between The Hardball Times and blogs like ours here at FanGraphs and Tango's work at The Book Blog, there is a remarkable flow of tremendous content being put out simply for the sake of improving the quality of baseball knowledge available. For guys like Studes or Tango, this isn't their career - it's a hobby, and something they do because they love it.

The same goes true, I would suspect, for most of the new analysts we've seen rise up in various sites over the last year or two. From guys like Sean Smith to Sky Kalkman, Colin Wyers, Josh Kalk, Mike Fast, and all the rest, there is a deep well of talent that is advancing baseball knowledge for everyone. And they're doing it without charging for their efforts.

Much like the open source movement in software, there's been a revolution in the baseball community. The best content available isn't being written in books or newspapers, or even behind subscription walls that require payments to access - the best knowledge available is free to everyone who wants it.

And, while it's sad to watch newspapers fold and business models fail, it's exciting to be living in an age where anyone who wants to educate themselves on the game can do so.

GAC
02-28-2009, 05:40 AM
Growing up my main source of income was delivering the paper. Many a found memories.

But the times, they are a changing, and there just isn't that great of a demand for newspapers anymore (as far as the main source for people's news).

It's also why network news has also been struggling. It use to be the normal routine for my parents when I growing up that after dinner you didn't bother them when the news came on at 6. Just not like that as much anymore.

I got up early this morning, brewed a pot of coffee, and in less then an hour, thanks to the internet, have browsed the world getting my morning fill of all the news I need to know from politics, sports, entertainment, etc., etc.

I like going to my home page (Google), click on news at the top, and go from there.

And you don't have to worry about getting ink all over you either. ;)

oneupper
02-28-2009, 09:32 AM
My experience with the Stanford story this month, has shown me that the mainstream media has a hard time covering a story and that print has absolutely no possibility of covering anything that is time-sensitive. Forget about breaking a story anymore.

My research paper on Stanford was all over the blogs a full WEEK before many of newspapers had caught wind of even what was going on.

I had reporters call me or email me saying "I still don't understand what this bank has done wrong" when all the bloggers (and blog followers) knew what was going on in Antigua (the bank was being put into receivership) and that it was a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

Part of that is because of legal constraints as lawyers dominate the pressroom, part because of the reporting/editing process and there simply aren't many savvy reporters as many have left this dying industry.

There could still be a place for the Sunday paper, but as a coupon carrier, a travel guide, a community bulletin board, etc. A magazine.

The NEWSpaper as such is dead.

durl
02-28-2009, 09:53 AM
My experience with the Stanford story this month, has shown me that the mainstream media has a hard time covering a story and that print has absolutely no possibility of covering anything that is time-sensitive. Forget about breaking a story anymore.

My research paper on Stanford was all over the blogs a full WEEK before many of newspapers had caught wind of even what was going on.

I had reporters call me or email me saying "I still don't understand what this bank has done wrong" when all the bloggers (and blog followers) knew what was going on in Antigua (the bank was being put into receivership) and that it was a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

Part of that is because of legal constraints as lawyers dominate the pressroom, part because of the reporting/editing process and there simply aren't many savvy reporters as many have left this dying industry.

There could still be a place for the Sunday paper, but as a coupon carrier, a travel guide, a community bulletin board, etc. A magazine.

The NEWSpaper as such is dead.

I couldn't agree more with your analysis.

As you said, it's not useful for timely information anymore. When you combine that with the fact that the blogosphere covers the stories from more angles and with a deeper level of understanding, it's easy to see why daily newspapers are slowly fading away.

nate
02-28-2009, 10:28 AM
My experience with the Stanford story this month, has shown me that the mainstream media has a hard time covering a story and that print has absolutely no possibility of covering anything that is time-sensitive. Forget about breaking a story anymore.

My research paper on Stanford was all over the blogs a full WEEK before many of newspapers had caught wind of even what was going on.

I had reporters call me or email me saying "I still don't understand what this bank has done wrong" when all the bloggers (and blog followers) knew what was going on in Antigua (the bank was being put into receivership) and that it was a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

Part of that is because of legal constraints as lawyers dominate the pressroom, part because of the reporting/editing process and there simply aren't many savvy reporters as many have left this dying industry.

There could still be a place for the Sunday paper, but as a coupon carrier, a travel guide, a community bulletin board, etc. A magazine.

The NEWSpaper as such is dead.

Yep.

SunDeck
02-28-2009, 11:15 AM
I think paper has its place. Nothing beats a bagel and a bloody mary over the Sunday NYTimes. That particular publication has always been more like a weekly magazine to me, in that it doesn't necessarily need to be "timely" in the same way that online news is.
It has always functioned as a vehicle for closing out the week for me and I also continue to appreciate the format.

RosieRed
02-28-2009, 05:16 PM
I've said this elsewhere, and it may have been said somewhere in this thread, but for everyone saying that "newspapers are dead" and "there is no such thing as a breaking news story in a newspaper" and blah blah blah, just remember there's not a whole lot of bloggers out there independently going out to report the news, without getting it from somewhere else (newspapers?) first. And if you ever want to know what's going on in your community, without a newspaper you better hope you have some REALLY good local bloggers or TV reporters to rely on. Or the time to go to council and school board meetings yourself.

If you don't care about such things, that's fine. It is, however, something that would be sorely missed if gone, IMO, and you won't even realize that until it is gone.

Unassisted
03-01-2009, 08:44 PM
My local paper laid off 30% of it's newsroom staff last week as part of a 125-person layoff. :(

I agree with RosieRed. I don't want to have to trust the TV and radio media to cover local politics, because I know from my time working in a TV newsroom that they won't do it as well or with the depth and tenacity that the newspaper does.

reds1869
03-01-2009, 09:14 PM
I get most of my news from NPR these days. They almost always report international events before any of the US mainstream media. To balance things out I spend time with the BBC, CNN and skimming various websites (including those of major dailies). All that said, I will be depressed when newspapers finally die. I love picking up the local paper whenever I visit a new city, it gives me a taste of the local flavor.

remdog
03-01-2009, 10:25 PM
I love picking up the local paper whenever I visit a new city, it gives me a taste of the local flavor.

I totally agree 1869.

If I'm going to a new city I usually try to view various sites about it on the internet. But, there is nothing like picking up a newspaper, once you get there, and see the ads, the style and the sense of a community that a particular city has. Somehow that has always come through better for me when I've got a newspaper in my hand and I'm standing in the middle of the town square.

Rem

Rojo
03-01-2009, 11:01 PM
"The San Francisco Chronicle is in a similar position and is unlikely to survive 2009, which will leave San Francisco without a daily newspaper."

That's wrong. SF has the Examiner which a few years ago became a free tabloid. Its been successful. But part of that relies on mass transit. You need something to read on the train.

Most newspapers would do well to emulate this. That plus a nonfree big Sunday edition and online content could work.

oneupper
03-02-2009, 10:21 AM
"The San Francisco Chronicle is in a similar position and is unlikely to survive 2009, which will leave San Francisco without a daily newspaper."

That's wrong. SF has the Examiner which a few years ago became a free tabloid. Its been successful. But part of that relies on mass transit. You need something to read on the train.

Most newspapers would do well to emulate this. That plus a nonfree big Sunday edition and online content could work.

That is the model in Europe. You pick up your paper as you board the metro in Madrid or by the Bahnhof in Zurich. Yes, it's free.

Of course, this generates a different problem. Cities are already thinking of slapping a tax on these free newspapers due to the refuse problem they cause.

Chip R
03-09-2009, 02:24 PM
10 newspapers that may fold or go only digital next year:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090309/us_time/08599188378500

The 10 Major Newspapers That Will Either Fold or Go Digital Next
By 24/7 WALL ST. 24/7 Wall St.
53 mins ago

Over the last few weeks, the newspaper industry has entered a new period of decline. The parent of the papers in Philadelphia declared bankruptcy as did the Journal Register chain. The Rocky Mountain News closed and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, owned by Hearst, will almost certainly close or only publish online. Hearst has said it will also close The San Francisco Chronicle if it cannot make massive cuts at the paper. The most recent rumor is that the company will fire half of the editorial staff. That action still may not be enough to make the property profitable.


24/7 Wall St. has created its list of the ten major daily papers that are most likely to fold or shut their print operations and only publish online. The properties were chosen based on the financial strength of their parent companies, the amount of direct competition that they face in their markets, and industry information on how much money they are losing. Based on this analysis, it is possible that eight of the fifty largest daily newspapers in the United States could cease publication in the next eighteen months. (Read: "The Race for a Better Read")


1. The Philadelphia Daily News. The smaller of the two papers owned by The Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, which recently filed for bankruptcy. The parent company says it will make money this year, but with newspaper advertising still falling sharply, the city cannot support two papers and the Daily News has a daily circulation of only about 100,000. The tabloid has a small staff, most of whom could probably stay on at Philly.com, the web operation for both of the city dailies.


2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has filed for Chapter 11. The paper may not make money this year even without the costs of debt coverage. The company said it made $26 million last year, about half of what it made in 2007. The odds are that the Star Tribune will lose money this year if its ad revenue drops another 20%. There is no point for creditors to keep the paper open if it cannot generate cash. It could become an all-digital property, but supporting a daily circulation of over 300,000 is too much of a burden. It could survive if its rival the St. Paul Pioneer Press folds. A grim race.


3. The Miami Herald, which has a daily circulation of about 220,000. It is owned by McClatchy, a publicly traded company which could be the next chain to go into Chapter 11. The Herald has been on the market since December, and but no serious bidders have emerged. Newspaper advertising has been especially hard hit in Florida because of the tremendous loss in real estate advertising. The online version of the paper is already well-read in the Miami area and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Herald has strong competition north of it in Fort Lauderdale. There is a very small chance it could merge with the Sun-Sentinel, but it is more likely that the Herald will go online-only with two editions, one for English-speaking readers and one for Spanish.


4. The Detroit News is one of two daily papers in the big American city badly hit by the economic downturn. It is unlikely that it can merge with the larger Detroit Free Press which is owned by Gannett. It is hard to see what would be in it for Gannett. With the fortunes of Detroit getting worse each day, cutting back the number of days that the paper is delivered will not save enough money to keep the paper open.


5. The Boston Globe is, based on several accounts, losing $1 million a week. One investment bank recently said that the paper is only worth $20 million. The paper is the flagship of what the Globe's parent, The New York Times, calls the New England Media Group. NYT has substantial financial problems of its own. Last year, ad revenue for the New England properties was down 18%. That is likely to continue or get worse this year. Supporting larger losses at the Globe will become nearly impossible. Boston.com, the online site that includes the digital aspects of the Globe, will probably be all that will be left of the operation.


6. The San Francisco Chronicle. Parent company Hearst has already set a deadline for shutting the paper if it cannot make tremendous cost cuts. The Chronicle lost as much as $70 million last year. Even if the company could lower its costs, the northern California economy is in bad shape. The online version of the paper could be the only version by the middle of the 2009.


7. The Chicago Sun Times is the smaller of two newspapers in the city. Its parent company, Sun-Times Media Group trades for $.03 a share. Davidson Kempner, a large shareholder in the firm, has dumped the CEO and most of the board. The paper has no chance of competing with The Chicago Tribune.


8. NY Daily News is one of several large papers fighting for circulation and advertising in the New York City area. Unlike The New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, and Newark Star Ledger, the Daily News is not owned by a larger organization. Real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman owns the paper. Based on figures from other big dailies it could easily lose $60 million or $70 million and has no chance of recovering from that level


9. The Fort Worth Star Telegram is another one of the big dailies that competes with a larger paper in a neighboring market - Dallas. The parent of The Dallas Morning News, Belo, is arguably a stronger company that the Star Telegram's parent, McClatchy. The Morning News has a circulation of about 350,000 and the Star Telegram has just over 200,000. The Star Telegram will have to shut down or become an edition of its rival. Putting them together would save tens of millions of dollars a year.


10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is in one of the economically weakest markets in the country. Its parent, Advance Publications, has already threatened to close its paper in Newark. Employees gave up enough in terms of concessions to keep the paper open. Advance, owned by the Newhouse family, is carrying the burden of its paper plus Conde Nast, its magazine group which is losing advertising revenue. The Plain Dealer will be shut or go digital by the end of next year.


- Douglas A. McIntyre

TeamCasey
03-09-2009, 04:56 PM
It's sad. The death of newspapers is the death of local news ........ and news that can affect local politics/ decision making/ policing. Newspapers are the watchdogs of our cities.

remdog
03-09-2009, 06:54 PM
It's sad. The death of newspapers is the death of local news ........ and news that can affect local politics/ decision making/ policing. Newspapers are the watchdogs of our cities.

That's a very wise post, TC. And I agree with it wholeheartedly.

Thirty seconds on the evening news doesn't give the full picture. To know the situation you need to know both sides of the story.

The internet is a terrific tool but, like TV news, it tends to gloss over the story.

Rem

Unassisted
03-09-2009, 11:17 PM
10 newspapers that may fold or go only digital next year:
I heard a newspaper industry analyst discussing newspapers going digital in an interview a couple of weeks ago. While it would seem to be an obvious course of action if print circulation is dropping, the huge drawback is that the average newspaper's print edition generates 9x as much advertising revenue as its web site. If the dead-tree edition goes away, so does most of the revenue that keeps the ship afloat.

15fan
03-10-2009, 12:08 AM
I heard a newspaper industry analyst discussing newspapers going digital in an interview a couple of weeks ago. While it would seem to be an obvious course of action if print circulation is dropping, the huge drawback is that the average newspaper's print edition generates 9x as much advertising revenue as its web site. If the dead-tree edition goes away, so does most of the revenue that keeps the ship afloat.

True - but wouldn't a vast slice of the expenditure pie go by the wayside, too? No printing presses. No ink. No paper. No delivery trucks. No delivery boys/girls/people, no plastic bags for the days it might rain, etc etc etc. You could probably do a pretty significant downsizing of the buiding(s), too. Instead of primo office space, find some cheap warehouse for a server farm out in the sticks with a few offices and you're set.

And you know what else the local papers could do? Scrap the photos. Seriously, who cares about the photo of the person walking his dog in the park on a sunny day, or the scout troop helping little old ladies across the street on a windy Thursday afternoon? Not me. My guess is that unless you know the person in the photo, the vast majority of the photos just get glossed over by the rest of you, too. Save the time & space and replace it with something of substance. Or if you feel like you need photos, let the general public send them in.

(You can also ditch the mug shots of the columnists, too. As a general rule, most columnists aren't exactly, um, easy on the eyes. It's the (s)he has a face for radio reality. Save the ink/column space/bandwidth and instead fill it with content or scale back your operations.)

Here's another thought for newspapers going forward - one digital route is the inside-the-box free and loaded up with banner ads route. But you could also offer subscriptions to non-ad sites. If I'm paying $150 a year for my daily printed paper, I'm probably willing to pay a variety of premius in an electronic format. Let me price my electronic subscription a la carte. I'd gladly pay a premium for a format that doesn't have ads or photos. Let me pay for those services. Others might not be willing to pay that premium, so let them navigate through all the banner & pop up ads.

There are plenty of options out there. But they all require making some fundamental changes by an industry that seems to be somewhat long in the tooth and set in its ways.

Adapt or perish.

RosieRed
03-10-2009, 02:28 AM
Here's another thought for newspapers going forward - one digital route is the inside-the-box free and loaded up with banner ads route. But you could also offer subscriptions to non-ad sites. If I'm paying $150 a year for my daily printed paper, I'm probably willing to pay a variety of premius in an electronic format. Let me price my electronic subscription a la carte. I'd gladly pay a premium for a format that doesn't have ads or photos. Let me pay for those services. Others might not be willing to pay that premium, so let them navigate through all the banner & pop up ads.


I know various sites around the Internet do this, and I've always wondered why more papers don't offer it. I think it has to come around eventually.

As to papers ditching photos ... man, we sure would be without some great images for future generations if that happened. You may gloss over them, but when breaking news happens, a photo can often tell the story better than anything else. (If city hall burns down, do you want to read about it or see a picture of it?) For what it's worth, study after study has shown that photos are the first thing people look at in a paper, and captions are more often read than stories are.

As an aside, it's not JUST the industry long in the tooth and set in its ways; there are readers out there too who don't want the product to change/die. The demographic most reading newspapers is of the older generation, and you can guess how they would feel about the print edition disappearing altogether. Also, there are still millions of people in this country who don't have Internet access ... or do, but it's too slow to make use of a lot of today's Web sites.

Caveat Emperor
03-10-2009, 02:49 AM
As an aside, it's not JUST the industry long in the tooth and set in its ways; there are readers out there too who don't want the product to change/die. The demographic most reading newspapers is of the older generation, and you can guess how they would feel about the print edition disappearing altogether. Also, there are still millions of people in this country who don't have Internet access ... or do, but it's too slow to make use of a lot of today's Web sites.

It's part of a larger habit-shift in this country away from reading in general. I remember reading a statistic once that 58% of Americans never pick up and read another book in their lifetime after completing high school.

More related to Newspapers -- the NEA did a study that found people age 15-24 spend approximately 7 minutes per day of "leisure time" reading (anything), compared to 2 hours on average watching television. Newspapers are fighting the same uphill battle that book publishers have been waging for years -- people just don't want to sit down and read something when they can flip a TV on and be told/shown.

BCubb2003
03-10-2009, 02:56 AM
Don't get me started. There are so many angles to this, so many things to consider ...

RFS62
03-10-2009, 09:21 AM
Don't get me started. There are so many angles to this, so many things to consider ...


Get started.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. That list of papers in trouble is like a punch to the stomach.

Roy Tucker
03-10-2009, 09:28 AM
I've always maintained that one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the love to read.

I think the micropayment ideas have some merit. Make it very easy to charge a nominal fee (like 5-10-25 cents) for a day/week/month worth of no-ad content at a newspaper site. Like buying an iTunes MP3 or driving through an iPay toll booth. People are reluctant to plop down $150 in one fell swoop, but if you nickel and dime your way there, they don't mind it as much.

I have noticed the Enquirer focusing very heavily on local news.

I did read somewhere of an idea where newspapers would shut down their free sites for a week in July to give the country a taste of what it would be like without a daily newspaper. I haven't made up my mind if this is a good idea or not.

macro
03-10-2009, 09:46 AM
I did read somewhere of an idea where newspapers would shut down their free sites for a week in July to give the country a taste of what it would be like without a daily newspaper. I haven't made up my mind if this is a good idea or not.

That could potentially backfire for them, couldn't it? Seven days might be long enough for people to seek and find other sources, and discover that they like those other sources better!

15fan
03-10-2009, 09:57 AM
That could potentially backfire for them, couldn't it? Seven days might be long enough for people to seek and find other sources, and discover that they like those other sources better!

Yep.

Pride cometh before the fall.

westofyou
03-10-2009, 11:04 AM
I remember reading a statistic once that 58% of Americans never pick up and read another book in their lifetime after completing high school.

Yep.. saddest thing I've read all year.

BCubb2003
03-10-2009, 11:54 AM
Well, you asked for it ...

You can see that the whole newspaper industry is facing big challenges now. It looks a lot like Kodak and the photographic film industry: Several years of serious pain, then a whole industry seems to vanish, to be replaced by digital. Yet, there's still a Kodak, doing photographic stuff in a new form.

But if you look closely, there are different kinds of newspapers with different situations.

The biggest problem is in two-newspaper cities. The Cincinnati Post, for instance, plus Albuquerque, Denver, Seattle. They had some good people on their staffs, but the No. 2 paper in a two-newspaper town was living on borrowed time. It hadn't been a viable business for decades.

The next problem is with large newspapers owned by companies that have huge debt, like Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles. Many of these newspapers are actually making enough to support themselves, just not enough to pay off the huge debt. Three or four years ago, you could see the print news industry was past its peak, but with careful management could last for quite a while as you made transition plans. But what were these companies thinking? They went billions into debt thinking that somehow something was going to happen in the print industry that would kick revenue into a higher gear unseen before. (The idea of being a billionaire, and still being in debt, has never made sense to me.)

That leaves a lot of other newspapers to cope with the changes in society and the industry as best they can. And the changes are real. You can look at baseball to see how information has changed. Do you remember when the Game of the Week was the only game you'd get that week? Before USA Today's expanded box scores? Before ESPN, MLB.com, XM, MLB TV. (I always thought it was a major lost opportunity that the Internet and fantasy baseball exploded just as baseball went on strike.)

Readership has changed, but not entirely, for everyone. The papers on Time magazine's list have a circulation of 4.5 million people. That's 4.5 million paying customers for supposedly the worst-off papers in the nation. (Some on the list really are bad off, some not so much.) When the Rocky Mountain News closed recently, it had 211,000 circulation, larger than the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Then the recession hits, and advertising disappears at the worst possible time. Even Google is cutting back. The advertising is disappearing faster than the readership.

Here's how I see it breaking down, so to speak. Two-newspaper towns go first, leaving one newspaper in a slightly healthier position than before. Big-debt companies break apart, leaving their newspapers to reset and support themselves. Most other newspapers struggle with changing readership and the recession but continue to print for those people who must have their news on paper. That's a lot of newspapers, still going. Meanwhile, the newsrooms move online as fast as possible.

People's relationship to newsprint changes, but never completely goes away. Small-town dailies, neighborhood weeklies and shoppers all add to the mix, for as long as enough people want paper. Soon though, even the publishers decide that this whole ink-on-newsprint, delivered-by-trucks thing is more trouble than it's worth. Yet each paper that closes will have thousands of people who still wanted it. Small-scale operations will step up to serve those people, until those businesses decide too that newsprint just doesn't work any more.

So what kind of journalism will be left? RedsZone has actually seen the likely model: C Trent. Instead of reading the Enquirer or the Dayton Daily News because that's the only place to get baseball news, we'll have to hope that the reporters we value like C Trent and John Erardi can put together their own networks to support themselves (or get a day job at the flux capacitor factory.)

oneupper
03-10-2009, 12:35 PM
The next problem is with large newspapers owned by companies that have huge debt, like Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles. Many of these newspapers are actually making enough to support themselves, just not enough to pay off the huge debt. Three or four years ago, you could see the print news industry was past its peak, but with careful management could last for quite a while as you made transition plans. But what were these companies thinking? They went billions into debt thinking that somehow something was going to happen in the print industry that would kick revenue into a higher gear unseen before. (The idea of being a billionaire, and still being in debt, has never made sense to me.)


Great Post! I'll explain the "debt" part. As mature industries, newspapers became "cash cows", as in they required very little investment in fixed assets. etc...so all your profits went to cash (simplistic, I know, but you get the idea). More cash was even generated by selling assets that became superfluos.

The best way to get a good return out of a 'cash cow" is to get 'cash now" (think J.G. Wentworth)...and therefore newspapers were the subject of leveraged buyouts, such as Sam Zell's LBO of the "Tribune Co".
The assumption (proven wrong) was that the cow would produce long enough to service that debt (althought the Tribune numbers never made sense).

For a billionaire like Zell, it made all the sense in the world to do this transaction the way it was done. The Tribune Co is now in Chapter 11 with creditors fighting over the crumbs that may be left. And Mr. Zell is still a billionaire.

Rojo
03-10-2009, 02:20 PM
I've always maintained that one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the love to read.

I think the micropayment ideas have some merit. Make it very easy to charge a nominal fee (like 5-10-25 cents) for a day/week/month worth of no-ad content at a newspaper site. Like buying an iTunes MP3 or driving through an iPay toll booth. People are reluctant to plop down $150 in one fell swoop, but if you nickel and dime your way there, they don't mind it as much.

I think the minitel had this model 20 years ago.

remdog
03-10-2009, 05:19 PM
Sam Zell is not nicknamed 'The Grave Dancer' for nothing. :eek:

Rem

RosieRed
03-10-2009, 11:14 PM
So what kind of journalism will be left? RedsZone has actually seen the likely model: C Trent. Instead of reading the Enquirer or the Dayton Daily News because that's the only place to get baseball news, we'll have to hope that the reporters we value like C Trent and John Erardi can put together their own networks to support themselves (or get a day job at the flux capacitor factory.)

While I understand this in theory, in reality I think this will be very hard to pull off, and were it to get to that point, the transition would be EXTREMELY painful. My thoughts are that possibly a lot of people don't realize how much news is, in fact, generated by newspapers. If you go to Google's news page, sure there are some outlets on there that aren't newspapers. But most are. We trust C Trent because we're familiar with his work. But if a guy were to break out on his own in, say, Boston, and blog about the Red Sox, I wouldn't know him from anyone (well, probably not, depending on who it is). And that scenario could be repeated over and over in all news sectors. Unless something similar to AP springs up, maybe multiple AP-like groups of reporters ... I just can't imagine relying on a bunch of independent reporters, so to speak. (Not saying it would necessarily be a bad thing, just seems unlikely.)

Even if newspapers were to stop printing newspapers and go digital, they're not going to stop covering the news. News organizations will continue in some form besides the C Trent model.

BCubb2003
03-11-2009, 12:49 AM
While I understand this in theory, in reality I think this will be very hard to pull off, and were it to get to that point, the transition would be EXTREMELY painful. My thoughts are that possibly a lot of people don't realize how much news is, in fact, generated by newspapers. If you go to Google's news page, sure there are some outlets on there that aren't newspapers. But most are. We trust C Trent because we're familiar with his work. But if a guy were to break out on his own in, say, Boston, and blog about the Red Sox, I wouldn't know him from anyone (well, probably not, depending on who it is). And that scenario could be repeated over and over in all news sectors. Unless something similar to AP springs up, maybe multiple AP-like groups of reporters ... I just can't imagine relying on a bunch of independent reporters, so to speak. (Not saying it would necessarily be a bad thing, just seems unlikely.)

Even if newspapers were to stop printing newspapers and go digital, they're not going to stop covering the news. News organizations will continue in some form besides the C Trent model.

You make a good point about the origins of the news and how it mostly starts with newspapers. (Amazingly, the CBS affiliate here just dropped its news operation and merged it with the NBC affiliate.) Yes, the newspapers that survive the longest will be the ones that manage to keep that bundle of quality reporting together. As print becomes less of a factor, the bundle of print-centric jobs that once put out a paper will come apart. And the bundle they produced, from horoscopes to box scores to investigations, will come apart. There might be, as you say, a painful reboot before centers of trusted information re-form. That might be a mix: A few "historically print" newspapers, plus Baseball Prospectus, plus something that hasn't been invented yet. When you look at the online players now, it's a mix of eras. Some created for the Web like eBay and Google, some from the cable TV era, like ESPN and CNN, some from the print era like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

I don't get too crazy with the "everything will be free" theme. I call it Pizza 2.0 ... give away the pizza and sell advertising on the box -- everything will be free, supported by advertising, for products nobody wants to buy, because everything is free, supported by advertising for ...

The local newspaper deserves credit for outliving CompuServ, Prodigy, Netscape and for all practical purposes, AOL. As I described before, not all papers are in such dire straits as the ones everybody's talking about. But I know that newspapers are never going to be the same.

Redsfaithful
03-11-2009, 02:45 AM
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

That site (among others) proves that news gathering can be done on a national level, and done well. And it's not like much national news is done by papers like the Cincinnati Enquirer anyway, it's all the NYT and Washington Post

Sports can be handled by guys like CTrent and bloggers in general, without much of a loss in quality.

Classifieds have been done better by Craigslist for years. The weather isn't something you get out of a newspaper. Entertainment news isn't something you need a newspaper for, even local entertainment areas of interest are covered just fine by bloggers (think restaurant reviews, music, theatre, etc.). Even webcomics are usually better than their print counterparts, not that it's tough to be better than Family Circus or Beetle Bailey.

Small town papers will survive in my opinion. They offer such local news that they are able to differentiate themselves as a product, and I imagine they run pretty lean producing decent profit margins (I could be wrong here, I'm guessing).

The only thing I'm worried about (and it seriously does worry me) is the hyper local political stuff. But in many cities local investigative reporting has been the first thing to see cuts, so I don't know. There needs to be a Talking Points Memo in every major metro area that is self supporting through donations and through advertising. How that could come about I'm not entirely sure.

Redsfaithful
03-11-2009, 02:56 AM
Everything I just mentioned can be monetized outside of advertising or doesn't need to be monetized by the way.

Sports - This is tough to monetize, but plenty of people will cover the game for the passion of it. Will that pay for them to do locker room interviews and press conferences, well no, but I'm not entirely sure there's much value to be had from game recaps and cliched interviews anyway.

Classifieds - Craigslist is a very healthy company, just by charging (in select cities) for job and real estate listings.

Entertainment news - Another passion thing on the local scene, and there's plenty of money to be had in the celebrity/movie/tv blogging world if you amass a large enough audience for advertisers to care.

Webcomics - Most of the guys making a living at this sell products, clothing, books, etc.

It doesn't have to be an everything is free business model, and it doesn't necessarily have to be advertising supported either, there are other options.

The real problem might be that 90% of the (elderly) people that read the paper read it for the crap you can get online, the comics, the weather, the tv listings, and could care less about the good local reporting that gets done. What happens when they die? Part of marketing is convincing your potential buying audience that they want something different, and newspapers need to start telling people that they need good local news and political coverage and selling them on it, because selling the paper based on the classifieds and Beetle Bailey is a dead business model. It might have a few more gasps left in it, but the people that buy papers for those things are going to be gone soon. The product needs to change. Newspapers need to start innovating a little bit.

Caveat Emperor
03-11-2009, 06:36 PM
Sports can be handled by guys like CTrent and bloggers in general, without much of a loss in quality.

The transition from the traditional radio / print / television media to a "blogger" / "independent reporter" format would be tough. Front offices have been notoriously slow to credential non-traditional media, and I can't imagine that would change quickly.

For that matter, how would teams decide who would get credentialed? CTrent got access because he was backed by a major corporation on his blog and had a prior relationship with the team based on his status as a beat reporter for the Post. Would teams be expected to credential any Tom, Dick or Harry that happened to have the $15 a month to pay for a domain and web hosting? Would credentials be limited to blogs / sites that had some kind of history for the team to review? If that's the case, how would new reporters grab their foothold if they were forced to compete with people who were credentialed and had access to better information?

Without player & management access that comes from being at the game, this "new reporting" would be limited to people watching TV, breaking down numbers and giving their thoughts. I'd hardly call that a substitute for what we get now from newspapers and beat writers.

Web journalism is good for many things, but I think in the sports realm it serves as (mostly) a supplement to regular journalism and would quickly be exposed as such if the regular reports from the traditional media outlets went away.

RosieRed
03-11-2009, 08:51 PM
Web journalism is good for many things, but I think in the sports realm it serves as (mostly) a supplement to regular journalism and would quickly be exposed as such if the regular reports from the traditional media outlets went away.

I think this is true of most Web journalism for nearly all news, not just sports.

Redsfaithful
03-12-2009, 12:57 AM
If the problem is credentialing questions, then that's not really a problem at all. There are plenty of metrics that could be used to set standards for which online organizations would receive press passes.

99% of blogs are junk Rosie, but the few that I would actually say practice journalism hold up very well in comparison to print papers (like TPM as I mentioned earlier). Newspapers have dug their own graves here by cutting so much experienced staff that the quality at most papers has dropped tremendously in recent years.

Look at what David Simon has to say here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022703591.html


In the halcyon days when American newspapers were feared rather than pitied, I had the pleasure of reporting on crime in the prodigiously criminal environs of Baltimore. The city was a wonderland of chaos, dirt and miscalculation, and loyal adversaries were many. Among them, I could count police commanders who felt it was their duty to demonstrate that crime never occurred in their precincts, desk sergeants who believed that they had a right to arrest and detain citizens without reporting it and, of course, homicide detectives and patrolmen who, when it suited them, argued convincingly that to provide the basic details of any incident might lead to the escape of some heinous felon. Everyone had very good reasons for why nearly every fact about a crime should go unreported.

In response to such flummery, I had in my wallet, next to my Baltimore Sun press pass, a business card for Chief Judge Robert F. Sweeney of the Maryland District Court, with his home phone number on the back. When confronted with a desk sergeant or police spokesman convinced that the public had no right to know who had shot whom in the 1400 block of North Bentalou Street, I would dial the judge.

And then I would stand, secretly delighted, as yet another police officer learned not only the fundamentals of Maryland's public information law, but the fact that as custodian of public records, he needed to kick out the face sheet of any incident report and open his arrest log to immediate inspection. There are civil penalties for refusing to do so, the judge would assure him. And as chief judge of the District Court, he would declare, I may well invoke said penalties if you go further down this path.

Delays of even 24 hours? Nope, not acceptable. Requiring written notification from the newspaper? No, the judge would explain. Even ordinary citizens have a right to those reports. And woe to any fool who tried to suggest to His Honor that he would need a 30-day state Public Information Act request for something as basic as a face sheet or an arrest log.

"What do you need the thirty days for?" the judge once asked a police spokesman on speakerphone.

"We may need to redact sensitive information," the spokesman offered.

"You can't redact anything. Do you hear me? Everything in an initial incident report is public. If the report has been filed by the officer, then give it to the reporter tonight or face contempt charges tomorrow."

The late Judge Sweeney, who'd been named to his post in the early 1970s, when newspapers were challenging the Nixonian model of imperial governance, kept this up until 1996, when he retired. I have few heroes left, but he still qualifies.

To be a police reporter in such a climate was to be a prince of the city, and to be a citizen of such a city was to know that you were not residing in a police state. But no longer -- not in Baltimore and, I am guessing, not in any city where print journalism spent the 1980s and '90s taking profits and then, in the decade that followed, impaling itself on the Internet.

In January, a new Baltimore police spokesman -- a refugee from the Bush administration -- came to the incredible conclusion that the city department could decide not to identify those police officers who shot or even killed someone. (Similar policies have been established by several other police departments in the United States as well as by the FBI.)

Anthony Guglielmi, the department's director of public affairs, informed Baltimoreans that, henceforth, Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld would decide unilaterally whether citizens would know the names of those who had used their weapons on civilians. If they did something illegal or unwarranted -- in the commissioner's judgment -- they would be named. Otherwise, the Baltimore department would no longer regard the decision to shoot someone as the sort of responsibility for which officers might be required to stand before the public.

As justification for this change, Bealefeld, in a letter to the City Council, cited 23 threats in 2008 against his officers. Police union officials further wheeled out the example of the only Baltimore police officer killed as an act of revenge for a police-involved shooting -- a 2001 case in which the officer was seen by happenstance in a Dundalk bar, then stalked and murdered.

Bealefeld didn't mention that not one of the 23 threats against officers came in response to any use of lethal force. Nor did he acknowledge that 23 threats against a 3,000-officer force in a year is an entirely routine number; that the number of such threats hasn't grown over the past several years, according to sources within the department.

And union officials were comfortable raising the 2001 case without being forced to acknowledge that the officer in that instance most probably would have been killed had no newspaper ever printed his name; he had testified in open court against the relatives of those who later encountered him at the bar and killed him. So the case has scant relevance to the change in policy.

The commissioner was allowed to stand on half-truths. Why? Because the Baltimore Sun's cadre of police reporters -- the crime beat used to carry four and five different bylines -- has been thinned to the point where no one was checking Bealefeld's statements or those of his surrogates.

On Feb. 17, when a 29-year-old officer responded to a domestic dispute in East Baltimore, ended up fighting for her gun and ultimately shot an unarmed 61-year-old man named Joseph Alfonso Forrest, the Sun reported the incident, during which Forrest died, as a brief item. It did not name the officer, Traci McKissick, or a police sergeant who later arrived at the scene to aid her and who also shot the man.

It didn't identify the pair the next day, either, because the Sun ran no full story on the shooting, as if officers battling for their weapons and unarmed 61-year-old citizens dying by police gunfire are no longer the grist of city journalism. At which point, one old police reporter lost his mind and began making calls.

No, the police spokesman would not identify the officers, and for more than 24 hours he would provide no information on whether either one of them had ever been involved in similar incidents. And that's the rub, of course. Without a name, there's no way for anyone to evaluate an officer's performance independently, to gauge his or her effectiveness and competence, to know whether he or she has shot one person or 10.

It turns out that McKissick -- who is described as physically diminutive -- had had her gun taken from her once before. In 2005, police sources said, she was in the passenger seat of a suspect's car as the suspect, who had not been properly secured, began driving away from the scene. McKissick pulled her gun, the suspect grabbed for it and a shot was fired into the rear seat. Eventually, the suspect got the weapon and threw it out of the car; it was never recovered. Charges were dropped on the suspect, according to his defense attorney, Warren Brown, after Brown alleged in court that McKissick's supervisors had rewritten reports, tailoring and sanitizing her performance.

And so on Feb. 17, the same officer may have again drawn her weapon only to find herself again at risk of losing the gun. The shooting may be good and legally justified, and perhaps McKissick has sufficient training and is a capable street officer. But in the new world of Baltimore, where officers who take life are no longer named or subject to public scrutiny, who can know?

In this instance, the Sun caught up on the story somewhat; I called the editor and vented everything I'd learned about the earlier incident. But had it relied on the unilateral utterances of Baltimore's police officials, the Sun would have been told that McKissick had been involved "in one earlier shooting. She was dragged behind a car by a suspect and she fired one shot, which did not strike anyone. The shooting was ruled justified."

That's the sanitized take that Guglielmi, the police spokesman, offered on the 2005 incident. When I asked him for the date of that event, with paperwork in front of him, he missed it by exactly six months. An honest mistake? Or did he just want to prevent a reporter from looking up public documents at the courthouse? (Attempts to reach McKissick, who remains on administrative leave, were unsuccessful.)

Half-truths, obfuscations and apparent deceit -- these are the wages of a world in which newspapers, their staffs eviscerated, no longer battle at the frontiers of public information. And in a city where officials routinely plead with citizens to trust the police, where witnesses have for years been vulnerable to retaliatory violence, we now have a once-proud department's officers hiding behind anonymity that is not only arguably illegal under existing public information laws, but hypocritical as well.

There is a lot of talk nowadays about what will replace the dinosaur that is the daily newspaper. So-called citizen journalists and bloggers and media pundits have lined up to tell us that newspapers are dying but that the news business will endure, that this moment is less tragic than it is transformational.

Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger trying to find out McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of the spin or omission.

I didn't trip over a herd of hungry Sun reporters either, but that's the point. In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to challenge any of it.

At one point last week, after the department spokesman denied me the face sheet of the shooting report, I tried doing what I used to do: I went to the Southeastern District and demanded the copy on file there.

When the desk officer refused to give it to me, I tried calling the chief judge of the District Court. But Sweeney's replacement no longer handles such business. It's been a while since any reporter asked, apparently. So I tried to explain the Maryland statutes to the shift commander, but so long had it been since a reporter had demanded a public document that he stared at me as if I were an emissary from some lost and utterly alien world.

Which is, sadly enough, exactly true.

Corporations that run the newspapers these days have killed what might have made them viable.

RosieRed
03-12-2009, 01:45 AM
If the problem is credentialing questions, then that's not really a problem at all. There are plenty of metrics that could be used to set standards for which online organizations would receive press passes.

99% of blogs are junk Rosie, but the few that I would actually say practice journalism hold up very well in comparison to print papers (like TPM as I mentioned earlier). Newspapers have dug their own graves here by cutting so much experienced staff that the quality at most papers has dropped tremendously in recent years.

Look at what David Simon has to say here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022703591.html



Corporations that run the newspapers these days have killed what might have made them viable.


One percent sure isn't a lot.

I'm not familiar with TPM, but I did notice they link to all kinds of other media outlets. Would they be able to stand without those news sources? Two or so reporters can only do so much. (I'm asking honestly, I really don't know anything about that site.)

As to what David Simon says, that's obviously a tough situation and no doubt it's repeated over and over across the country. It sucks. It also sucks that a newspaper could pour resources into that kind of reporting, only to see an American Idol story get 10 times more hits on the paper's web site (which is seemingly the measuring stick used in newsrooms everywhere these days to figure out what it is that readers "want"). If people aren't reading it or don't care, and let's face it, a lot of people don't, it really isn't cost-effective to have those kind of resources on one beat. I'm not saying it's right, but it is what it is right now.

Can't argue your last point, and in fact I think it applies to TV and radio as well. News is a business, and profit is all that matters.

Redsfaithful
03-12-2009, 04:48 AM
Yeah TPM's bread and butter is original reporting, which is actually found here:

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/

They won a Polk award in 2008. So I think they'd be ok without news sources, and it's the future of news gathering on the national level, in my opinion. There are kinks to be worked out, for sure, but there's money to be made so it'll get figured out. TPM certainly turns a profit, although it's not the kind of cash cow that city wide newspapers have been.

BCubb2003
03-12-2009, 11:13 AM
Hey, who got me started? Here's a more positive outlook that also emphasizes my point about how not all newspapers are in the same boat.

http://themediabusiness.blogspot.com/2009/03/dead-and-dying.html


They are panicking at problems in big city media and ignoring the fact that most newspapers are relatively stable and reasonably healthy. The only newspapers experiencing serious competitive difficulties are those in the top 25 markets (about 1 percent of the total) and these are joined in suffering by corporate newspaper companies whose executives have made serious managerial mistakes.

Heath
03-12-2009, 11:26 AM
Day baseball, natural grass, broadcast television, print newspaper ...

You forgot twi-night doubleheaders.

My favorite newspaper is the NY Daily News. Why? Size. It's not as trashy as the Post, but not as hefty as a daily Times to drag around.

Newspapers have a niche and they could do some adjusting towards more human-interest stories and more analysis. There is room for that.

And mclain hit the nail on the head. Newspapers are for-profit. If they don't hit their "stated goal", heads will roll.

You know one of highest profit centers in newspapers? Obituary sections. Ironic, isn't it?

Unassisted
03-15-2009, 12:53 AM
There's a longish, but good blog article about this subject at the link below.

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable (http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/)

RosieRed
03-20-2009, 03:51 AM
I just read this entire article, and thought it made a lot of great points, and some very interesting suggestions about what the future of journalism should look like.

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090406/nichols_mcchesney

Redsfaithful
03-20-2009, 11:47 AM
Joe Posnanski, my favorite sportswriter for quite awhile now, has started a blog centered around the future of newspapers:

http://futureofpapers.blogspot.com/