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Here's what I don't get ...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Gator, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there's been a ton of threads about this, but here's another:

    Just had a long meeting with the ME at our paper and things aren't looking good. We're a small paper with a loyal following, but as we all know, the landscape is changing. Younger readers don't want to pick up the paper, but would rather read it online, meaning circulation numbers go down.

    We charge for our web site, so I guess that turns people away, but people still need to get their news. I don't understand how we can still be losing tons of money when I feel we have a perfect niche with very little competition. Are people happy being uninformed?

    I also understand that the economy is bad, so here is the million-dollar question: Is it us doing something wrong, or is it them not being able to afford us? I suppose if this question had an easy answer, newspapers across the country wouldn't be doing as bad as they are.
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Yes, they are happy being uninformed.
  3. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    If my city raises its water rates, my newspaper likely will mention it.

    If I didn't see it in the newspaper, I would just get a notice in the mail about the higher rates or I would just start seeing a slightly higher bill.

    There's nothing wrong with the information the newspaper provided . . . but I can't say it was needed or did me any good. I could not stop the rates from rising, nor can I switch to a different water provider.

    The newspaper happens to provide me with useful information that I am accustomed to looking for. But I cannot say the information cannot be found elsewhere by another person who is now wired to seek information elsewhere.

    The amount of information in a newspaper today that is both exclusive AND useful is practically nonexistent.
  4. Magic In The Night

    Magic In The Night Active Member

    I think people prefer being uninformed. Except for a small percentage, who still, of course, take the paper. People of a younger generation figure they get all the news they need via Twitter.
  5. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

    Unless ... the newspapers focus more on the "watchdog" aspect of things (to use a term I royally hate).

    You could find that notice about the water rates rising in the mail, sure. If the newspaper writes a story about how the water rates are rising because there is $5 million missing and unaccounted for from the utility department's budget from last year, or something similar, that gives the newspaper value and gives its readers something they won't find elsewhere. And if you also charge for Internet access (which I am in favor of), then readers will need to pay for that information, either in print or online.

    Is stuff like that enough to save the industry? I hope we get to the point where we can find out. I hope newspapers can decide on a niche where they can give their consumers unique, valuable information and then see if they can survive. The current mind-set of throwing some stuff at the wall and seeing if it sticks, then when it doesn't throwing some more random stuff at the wall and seeing if it sticks, rinse and repeat, isn't working.

    Unfortunately, my former shop is so far away from that point, it's depressing. They can't get things like "than/then" and "their/there/they're" correct, so the consumers don't (and shouldn't) have any confidence that the paper and online product has any value whatsoever. And as a Gannett shop with everyone on the desk looking to bail out before they are laid off within 2 years, what are the odds things are going to get better?
  6. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    When I moved back to the DC area, I took a subscription to the Post just because I like having a paper to read every morning, knowing full well I can get the same info online for nothing. Didn't pay a lot for it, but I paid.

    Stopped paying a few months ago. Wouldn't start it up again. Not even for the cheap rate I paid before.

    I can spend that $50 elsewhere and get way more for my money.
  7. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    "People are happy being uninformed" is the same sort of arrogance I've been hearing for years from print wonks.

    There are many other ways for people to get information on their local area, and many more for national and international news. They have more choices. They're not necessarily uninformed, they're just not choosing newspapers anymore.

    Why, with subscriptions to cable television and Internet service, should they also spend money on an ever-shrinking medium?
  8. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    For national news, yes, cable and internet would leave no reason for people to pick up papers. But again, we're in a small coverage area, we have a pay site and little competition. So if they're not picking us up, they're getting their information second hand.
  9. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Turns out all along, people just wanted the comics, the standings, the classifieds and all that other jazz, not the city council reports and features on interesting local people.
  10. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    I did get a guy screaming at me that we were "purposely withholding the Detroit Tigers boxscores" and that we should be ashamed of ourselves. See, there's something for everyone in a newspaper. How is this medium dying?
  11. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Is your paper actually losing money, or just not bringing in as much as before. There's a big difference there that the suits love to obscure.
  12. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    I just scan the paper every day, guarding against jacked-up water rates.
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