Friday, February 29, 2008

Media Dinosaurs, Newspapers, Dying Off, Soon to be Extinct!

Media Dinosaurs, Newspapers, Dying Off, Soon to be Extinct!
No politics today. This is “pet peeve” day!

I’m sitting here at the computer anxiously awaiting the arrival of my morning paper. The problem is, it will not arrive before mid-morning when I no longer need it. Yet, I have paid for it in advance. It has gotten so bad they we will now leave today’s paper in the box and get it out tomorrow morning and read it, a day late, in order to have a paper at the breakfast table!

Oh, I have already driven to the nearest newspaper rack and purchased a copy of their competitor’s newspaper, and read it. Plus, I have been reading Google’s news since around 3 this morning. So, I am fairly well informed at this point in the morning.


That is not the problem!

The problem is… I paid for a newspaper to be delivered to my home, at a reasonable hour. It is not coming close and this has been going on since last summer.

I have spoken with everyone from the carrier to the circulation manager… and… out of desperation, to the publisher himself, about the situation and nothing improves. It’s as though they don’t mind losing subscribers… and many in my small city have dropped their subscriptions for that reason.

Look, it’s not like newspapers are a healthy business right now. They are not. They are in serious danger of going the way of the dinosaur. You would think service to their subscribers would be the first thing on their “to-do” list, but apparently it is not.

I have a friend, way across this state that, receives the premier newspaper in the state delivered to his home… when he gets it! He is having the same problem we are having, out here on the coast, with an entirely different publishing company. So, I can’t help but wonder if this is a national tend.

Newspapers are fast becoming a thing of the past. Home delivery is on the way out… I know that. The papers are having a hell of a time getting carriers as a result of the cost of gasoline and upkeep to their vehicles. In some I cases, I am informed that newspapers have had to guarantee carriers “X” number of dollars, a month, before they will even take the job. Believe me, I understand that. But, do not sell me a subscription to your paper and promise to deliver it before a certain time in the morning and then be either consistently late, by as much as 2 hours, or more, or… do not deliver at all. There is no excuse for that… none, whatsoever.

Question: is it time to go back to the kids on bicycles delivering papers on a paper route within the cities? No gas! No auto upkeep… and Ma will see he’s up and gone on time. OK, I know it is dangerous for a kid on a bike out in the pre-dawn hours these days and times. The US is a much different place than when I was a lad.

I have watched the size of the newspaper page diminish. I have watched the thickness of the newsprint paper diminish, and I have now seen service to subscribers diminish. Is the newspaper business deaf, dumb, and blind? There are some very real reasons people are not using their product nearly as much these days… I mean other than disagreement with their biases.

I believe, if I were a publisher, I’d take a look at my publication as a business. If the publisher did that, he would readily see the problems with his business, why his profits have decreased or even ceased to exist. A newspaper is still a business like any other. A business’s first responsibility is to its consumers; it’s subscribers, in the case of the newspapers, and, of course, their advertisers. Believe me, once their advertisers become aware their ads are NOT reaching the numbers they were told they would, by the papers sales department, there will be a huge decrease in the paper’s profits. A newspaper can survive a good while with dwindling subscribers. But when the advertisers begin to fall off, death comes quickly.

So, maybe this is the swan song of the newspaper business as a “brick and mortar” business. Do you think so? Actually, I hate to see that happen, but it certainly looks as if it is.

In the meantime, my paper just lost another subscriber.


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