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If newspapers fall in the forest...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HeinekenMan, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    So I'm visiting my in-laws, and I decide to just drop a bomb by noting that they really should subscribe to at least one newspaper. Mother-in-law, who is an eBay addict who rarely leaves the house and who keeps kitty litter boxes in both the kitchen and in her bedroom, replies that she doesn't like to read.

    When I explain in a nuts-and-bolts tone that newspapers are dying a horrid death, she says I should start writing for the Internet or for TV. I toss out the diehard newspaper guy arguments about the quality of reporting, the breadth of coverage, the convenience of a paper delivered to your door that can be accessed on the can and so forth, she just says that she really doesn't like to read much at all.

    I come back with tough questions, such as whether she cares about her community and what's going on down the street, whether she cares if the local grocery store is selling tainted meat or the local high school is a breeding ground for drug dealers.

    She says she gets all of that information from TV news reports.

    Why is that people don't seem to get it? It's as if the same mentality that put George W. Bush in the White House is turning a deaf ear on one of the key foundations of modern democracy.

    Mother-in-law is in the Charlotte market, which is served by a great paper. Talented people are banging their heads against their desks to get the latest, most important news to her doorstep. And she doesn't seem to comprehend that there's a vast abyss between what one reads in a newspaper and what makes it into a 30-minute TV newscast.

    In my Orlando stomping grounds, the Sentinel runs a great ad campaign that tries to lure in new readers. But I have to wonder whether it's working. Is it time to double the efforts?

    Maybe we need to go door-to-door with the Girls Scouts and sell some newspapers with the cookie orders. At this point, I'd settle for anything. I just want people like my mother-in-law to get it.

    Okay, end of gripe...
  2. JME

    JME Member

    People just don't have any attention span anymore.
  3. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Maybe newspapers need to do a better job by not focusing on things readers don't care about and by not botching major story after major story.
  4. soccer dad

    soccer dad Guest

    sorry, heineken, but to me your post indicates that you are the one with the problem.

    there are too many people in the newspaper industry with "we are the last virgins" attitudes towards their jobs. the quality of tv work has improved. you can find some real good reporting on internet sites. and newspapers are learning more and more that their web sites are essential -- maybe more essential than their newsprint.
  5. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Plus, they are now thumbing their noses at any call to be more diligent, to dig for the facts, etc.
  6. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Jesus H. Christ on crutch...do we have enough threads bemoaning the death of newspapers?
    Should we all be preparing to apply for unemployment, food stamps and welfare tomorrow?

    You people are just way out of control.
    Do you not realize there always have been millions and millions of people in this country who don't read newspapers -- or anything else?
    Have we become so self-consumed and self-important in this buiness that we believe anyone who doesn't read a newspaper is personally insulting us?
    Do you people really believe, as Heineken Man put it, "newspapers are dying a horrid death?"
    Do you really believe we have to make peole who dont care "get it?" Aren't we better served by gving the people who do care something better?

    Please, stop the bitching and whining and lamenting, accept the fact that a whole lot of people don't read newspapaers and never have, adjust to the always changing means of informaton delivery (from radio to TV to internet) and, mostly GROW THE FUCK UP and get over yourselves.
  7. JME

    JME Member

    I think, with all due respect to my far-wiser friend spnited, that the situation has deteriorated at an exponential rate the past few months.

    It was already obvious that things were getting bad, but it seems like there's some bad news every single day right now.
  8. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    That tends to happen when the people who are guiding the ships are poor problem-solvers and really have no idea what readers want.
  9. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    I'd be tickled to hear just how many people are doing just that as we discuss this topic. I believe that, if you look back over the past year, you'll find that more than 1,000 jobs were cut. I know of at least five or six people who post on this board who have noted that they were among the many who were released. And I know there are probably more than 100 who post here who are sweating bullets right now due to the rumor mill and innuendo across the country.
  10. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Not because your mother-in-law doesn't read newspapers (she probably never has),  but because stock-holders of  large, publically-held chains want bigger profit margins than Exxon.

    One more thing: How many "union-protected" auto workers have lost their jobs this year?
  11. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    There's certainly a range of issues contributing to the job cuts and freezes. But the fact remains that circulation is falling and ad revenue, particularly in the case of classifieds, is falling. And all this while the population is increasing.

    I only wish we could point to Japanese automakers as the source of the decline. But I have a theory I'd like to run by you. If you subscribe to the theory that people are more likely to read papers if their parents read papers, the downward trend in circulation is likely to continue unless the industry can create new readers. Take Joe Blow as an example. He's 35, and he just canceled his subscription. He has 2.5 children who are now less likely to read newspapers when they become adults in 20 years.

    I'm not suggesting that we continue to dumb down the news and sell Red Eye BS to kids. But, for heaven's sake, let's at least talk about it rather than grumbling about how there are too many negative posts about the industry's future.
  12. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Plenty of people are, though.
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