During a segment on newspapers on my old public TV program InterCHANGE I mentioned that newspapers weren’t done for just yet. They were merely dying a slow death.

In January of this year, this was offered by WGBH News:

The newspaper business is a shell of its former self. Far from cutting newsprint and delivery costs, newspapers remain utterly reliant on their shrunken print editions for most of their revenues. Not only do newspapers remain tethered to 20th-century industrial processes such as massive printing presses, tons of paper, and fleets of delivery trucks, but efforts to develop new sources of digital revenue have largely come to naught.

In other words, those in the biz who still hold out hope are in utter denial. In real life we all have a dance card with a death date on it. The same holds true for newspapers. And they’ve done little, if anything to prevent their fate from being sealed.

Newspapers are hurting, but won’t admit it

Oct. 2, 2007

Fewer people are reading newspapers. Circulation is down for newspapers all across the country. Newspapers are still an important part of our daily fabric, but are certainly less relevant.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel announced it is looking for ways to reduce staff. One way is by “offering employee buyouts in the hope of reducing its workforce by 35 to 50 people.”

If that doesn’t work?

“The company said if not enough employees take the offer, an involuntary program will be considered.”

Having received a few pink slips, some from the Journal Company, I think that’s newspaper-ese for, “We’ll fire you.”

More from

Elizabeth (Betsy) Brenner, president and chief operating officer of the publishing group of Journal Communications (JRN) Inc., said the employee reductions are necessary because of falling revenue. In recent years, the Journal Sentinel and other newspapers have been losing revenue to Internet-based advertising. She said gains in online advertising at the newspaper aren’t strong enough yet to replace traditional advertising revenue.

“It is never easy to call for staff cutbacks, but we must continue to align our cost structure with the realities of reduced revenues in the newspaper industry,” Brenner said in a statement to employees.

Effective immediately, full-time employees of Journal Sentinel Inc. with 10 years of service or more as of Oct. 26 are eligible to apply. The company said it is anticipates that between 35 and 50 employees, or 3.5% to 5% of the Journal Sentinel’s full-time staff, will accept the buyout offer. That number may change depending on the number of employees who apply and are accepted. The separation date is on or about Nov. 15.The buyouts will include cash severance and temporary health care coverage.

A memo on the voluntary separation program distributed to newsroom employees said participants will receive two weeks of pay for every full year of service and two months of paid medical care benefits, not including dental and vision.

Non-newsroom employees would receive 1 1/2 weeks of current base salary for every year of service and six months of paid health benefits, also not including dental and vision.

Newspapers are getting beat up in the competition for news consumers, so the workers suffer. This is a trend that didn’t just materialize overnight. Long before the explosion of cable and talk radio, newspapers were losing the news audience to TV viewers.

There are so many choices for people to get information, including the blog site you’re reading right now. Newspapers have adapted, but they’re not the only game in town, and by their nature, are not the first and the fastest game, either.

This is how much the times have changed. The newspaper biz is now trying a Pulitzer Prize effort at putting a positive spin…………on declining readership! The New York Times just published an article on why large newspapers are happy about lower circulations.  Huhhh?? (Ironically, the same article required a major correction for an error. You’ll see later in this blog).

The New York Times writes:

As the newspaper industry bemoans falling circulation, major papers around the country have a surprising attitude toward a lot of potential readers: Don’t bother.

The big American newspapers sell about 10 percent fewer copies than they did in 2000, and while the migration of readers to the Web is usually blamed for that decline, much of it has been intentional. Driven by marketing and delivery costs and pressure from advertisers, many papers have decided certain readers are not worth the expense involved in finding, serving and keeping them.

Oh my goodness.

What a ludicrous, rip-roaring laughable argument.

What industry tells its customers that it’s okay, we don’t need you. You don’t want what we’re selling? No big deal.

Earth to the newspaper industry: The public soured on what you were selling years and years and years ago. And you know why? While you were in your ivory towers dictating what you thought was news and what you thought everyone should be thinking, the news-consuming public decided they wanted something else, and more.

Your liberal editorial rants suddenly were being met by people who thought, no, there’s another view. I don’t have to accept this.

And quite frankly, newspaper readers got fed up.  Their attitude exists today. Are there people who get the Journal/Sentinel just to read the outstanding sports section? You better believe it.

Keep writing those lefty editorials.

Keep shoving the race-baiting columns down our throat.

See how many extra subscriptions that gets you.

Here’s the New York Times article where newspapers try to make excuses for their significant drop in readership.

There are ways to address increased competition. Newspapers have tried, but have failed, in large part because they refuse to admit their failures.

While they sit at their keyboards and egotistically tell themselves, “Oh, this is great stuff,” their target audience is tuning into Fox, or talk radio, or blogs like this one.

Go ahead, newspaper big shots. Insult me again. Tell me why it’s no great loss if I don’t read your paper.
—-October 2, 2007

A new study drives yet another nail in the coffin of newspaper relevancy.

Seems even the die-hard elderly, a staunch group clutching on to their age-old habit of reading a daily physical newspaper have turned, instead, to the Internet as their primary source for news.

Here’s more.

This is extremely important because more and more papers are charging consumers to read their material online.

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