Sunday, February 08, 2009

Newspapers Meet Their "End Times'

Newspapers Meet Their “End Times.”
By: J. D Longstreet

My morning paper was not delivered again today. I had to go out and drive to the nearest newspaper rack, 3 blocks away, and purchase a paper because I did not get the once I had already paid for… in advance.

Many days I sit here at the computer anxiously awaiting the arrival of my morning paper. Many mornings 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 I often 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! (It’s a cultural thing!)

On the bright side… I have been reading Google’s news since around 3 this morning. And for years now, I have been going to websites of newspapers from Europe, usually Great Britain, or Australia, to get news about what’s happening in the US because, frankly, it is more reliable for accuracy and lack of bias toward the political left or right in America. So, I am fairly well informed at this point of the morning even without having received my own newspaper.

Newspapers are in deep, deep trouble… and they have brought it upon themselves. And guess what? They still do not understand what has happened to them, nor why! Take a look at the latest edition of Time Magazine for February 16th. Check the front cover. Now read the article by Walter Isaacson. It begins on page 30. It’s title: “How to Save Your Newspaper.” If you, perchance, do not subscribe to Time Magazine, you can read the article HERE.

See what I mean? I would respectfully disagree with Mr. Isaacson’s. It is my contention that the print media still does not understand the problem they are facing. They have yet, in my opinion, to understand that, by and large, the people of America are conservative… to varying degrees, of course, yet most Americans hold conservative views on many, many, things and they are just tired of the print media’s liberal stance on practically everything. It is tiring, and it is boring, and we’ve had enough. This is the very same reason, in my opinion, that liberal talk shows on the broadcast media fall so far behind in listenership when they come up against conservative talk radio.

I wrote an article a year ago on this same topic. Frankly, I had no idea the consumers of newspapers, indeed, all the print media, would move so quickly to dump the liberal media. It was obvious, even then, that it was coming, but the rapidity with which it swooped down upon the ink stained hordes is amazing.

Newspapers are NOT a healthy business right now… not by any stretch of the imagination. Both my regional papers are laying off staff, and one is reducing the size of the pages because of the cost of newsprint paper, and they are even looking at using a different font, one that will not use as much ink as the font they are currently using. The proposed font is MUCH harder to see and read. It doesn’t have the depth of the old font and those of us who depend on spectacles to wind our way through that jungle of the already fine print will have the dickens of a time reading this proposed font, IF they actually DO switch to it. I have already let the editor and publisher know of my feelings on the matter. Hey, they asked!

Newspapers are in serious danger of going the way of the dinosaur. You would think they would, at least, look at their content. Usually, when the consumers refuse a product, it has something to do with the consumer’s perception of the quality of that product. When you consistently feed liberal drivel to the masses, and a huge percentage of those masses are conservative, sooner or later, they are going to say enough, and begin to look for a source of information more in line with their own core belief. You would think the print media could see that. And you would think service to their subscribers would receive much more consideration than it does now. But neither is happening. If it is… it certainly is not obvious!

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. Is this an indicator of a nationwide trend?

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.

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? These are just more reasons people are not using their product nearly as much these days… I mean other than disagreement with the print media’s biases.

Ad sales are the lifeblood of a newspaper. Believe me, once their advertisers become aware their ads are NOT reaching the numbers of subscribers they had expected, there will be another huge decrease in the paper’s ad sales which translates in to lost profits. A newspaper can survive a good while with dwindling subscribers. But when the advertisers begin to fall off, death comes quickly.

So, maybe we are witnessing 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. But contrary to what the experts may think, charging money to read an article, a column, or even a blog from their online site is not the answer. Newspapers and print magazines are in apocalyptic days. The “End Times” are upon them. Their death throes are not pretty.

J. D. Longstreet

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