Monday, June 24, 2013

Who Reads Newspapers Anyway?

It’s a morning ritual: get up and let the dog out the front door and walk to the spot in the lawn where the morning Bellingham Herald’s been tossed in its bright red plastic wrapper. Sure, sometimes like this Monday morning, the paper’s about as thin as its plastic covering but having the morning paper in hand is a nice, familiar ritual.

Everett Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein captures the feeling well of what happens when the morning paper isn’t there in “Nothing replaces a physical newspaper”:

“....when the paper isn't there it's just an awful feeling. Something pleasurable and important is missing. The day does not properly begin. Coffee doesn't taste as good. It's an addiction, really, and it's common in my generation.”
Like Muhlstein, print newspaper readers of The Oregonian might begin having that “awful feeling” as the venerable publication goes to delivering the daily paper to home subscribers only on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Muhlstein reports that the newspaper will be published seven days a week and sold daily at newsstands and will have an expanded digital presence. This is all part of a business strategy by the publication’s owners who have made similar cuts in both publication and staff at papers in New Orleans and Cleveland.

It’s a business move that newspaperman Floyd McKay questions this morning in his Crosscut article, “The Oregonian: Going the way of all newspapers?”--
“If the paper does maintain its present staff size, it reflects the move to digital. There is some irony in this: The Oregonian’s strongest suit has been a talented staff of reporters and editors; its weakest link has been its web site, OregonLive.com.”
But maybe it is a generational thing shared by Muhlstein, McKay and me. According to an article in BBC News by Leo Kelion, the move to paying for non-physical, digital news is slowly gaining support in the UK. “Gains were also seen in the US, France and Germany, although Denmark bucked the trend. Those aged 25 to 34 appeared most prepared to pay, and men were more willing than women, the study suggests.” ( Online news is becoming easier to sell, suggests study  )
... "The data indicate, on average, 10% of people have paid for news in some digital form - about one-third higher than last year," said Prof Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which carried out the study. “Public-affairs magazines are finding it easier to get the public to pay than newspapers, especially on tablets, because digital payments for magazines are becoming the norm and they offer news analysis and commentary in ways general news sources do not.”
So if the news business strategists are right, it will be the young who will pay and read the news in its digital form. Some of us will just have to explain why we are standing on the front lawn in the mornings. Then it will be up to the young to define the standard of what constitutes good news reporting— in whatever form it comes.

--Mike Sato 

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the news guys need to put Smokey Stover, Dick Tracy, Mark Trail and the Teenie Weenies back in the comics. That'll grab the young folks!

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