Newspapers – a cultural reckoning

spideyThe Daily Cartoonist talks about the demise of local newspapers and asks Who’s Killing Your Local Newspaper? They say, “In the face of layoffs, the coronavirus, and private equity firms like Alden Capital trying to strip it for parts, the news industry is on the verge of collapse.”

Oddly enough, today’s comic is newspaper related as you can see.

Recently I signed a petition to save the Miami Herald from equity firms taking over the newspaper. That is who is owning the newspapers these days – they are also buying up my little village – everything that was once mom and pop, including the newspapers are now owned by corporations or retirement funds.

For the past few years I wondered why newspapers don’t turn themselves into a commodity, something people want – and what I mean is when a newspaper has a story or feature, say destined for Sunday’s paper – a big feature – they post it online on Tuesday. Why? What would be the point of me buying the Sunday paper then? I will read a story online Tuesday that later appears in the Thursday or Friday print edition. It’s old news by then. The stories are written and posted at that moment rather than wait for it to be printed. That’s great if the newspapers weren’t trying to save their print editions.

I can’t tell you how many times my father says to me, “Did you see such and such in the paper today?” And I’ll say, “Yes, but I read it three days ago online.”  If the newspapers published the stories and features in the printed paper first, and then after that, posted them online, it might work out better than the way they do it now. I’m not talking about news, I know they want to publish news as soon as possible, but features and stories – print them first, then place them online.

To be honest, I only get daily delivery of our local paper so I can support them. Most days I don’t even open it. I’ve read it all before it even arrives on my doorstep.

There was a time when I read so many newspapers in a day and now I read even more because I read papers from out of state and there lies the rub (I love saying that) – circulation is up due to online publication, but newspapers need to find a way to make money online – and not through a pay wall. There has to be a way for them to make money through ads. People can read newspapers from all over the world, so the audience is there.

When I published the daily news online here in town, I sold ads – I made money – it was not my main goal and I saw it more as a community service so I didn’t push for ads – but if I wanted to, I probably could have supported myself. Why can’t the daily newspapers do that? I see ads every five seconds on social media – why not the online newspapers?

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