The Z Man [H/T Chuckles] writes on newspapers versus online news and you can read that here. As usual, comments were interesting:
# James LePore
When I called the NY Times in 2000 to cancel my subscription, the gal on the phone asked me why I was cancelling. I told her because the Times didn’t even pretend any more that it was an objective newspaper, that it had become an out-and-out propaganda sheet. There was a pause. I asked the gal if she was writing that down. She said no, she heard it all the time.
On-line, when the BS meter goes off, you can be gone, immediately, no questions asked. Or if you suspect BS, never call up the site in the first place. It takes more than a moment of frustration over the BS in print to unsubscribe. Instead the paper keeps coming, but it gets read less and less. Eventually, you don’t renew it.
Then the paper’s rep calls and offers a year delivered for $10 or something. OK, why not? So, of the people still subscribing, how many are at cheapo subscription rates, and what percentage of those papers generally go from driveway to recycling without ever being looked at?
On-line, when the BS meter goes off, you can be gone, immediately, no questions asked. Or if you suspect BS, never call up the site in the first place. It takes more than a moment of frustration over the BS in print to unsubscribe. Instead the paper keeps coming, but it gets read less and less.
Eventually, you don’t renew it. Then the paper’s rep calls and offers a year delivered for $10 or something. OK, why not? So, of the people still subscribing, how many are at cheapo subscription rates, and what percentage of those papers generally go from driveway to recycling without ever being looked at?
# Karl Horst (Germany)
Much of what is published as “news” is written as either editorial or pure speculative opinion. There is not much in the way of actual fact finding or investigative journalism and much of it seems to be based on someone’s Twitter or Facebook posting or some sensationalized video clip. To add insult to injury, the event is written by people with a literary competency level of a high school student lacking any sort of critical thinking skills.
When I worked in newspapers, we were all aware that the readership was literally dying off. Young people weren’t interested in the paper, and the old ones were not going to last. Of course, older people liked the Hatch, Match and Dispatch columns, particularly the latter as they could see who they knew who they wouldn’t be meeting again. But even that began to shrink as younger people saw no reason to announce their marriage or their children (you might even conclude that unmarried single mothers had absolutely no reason to announce the arrival of little Dwayne as there was a fair chance it wasn’t Wayne who was the dad.)
The papers I worked on had a large revenue based on ‘Want Ads’ which was the trendy name for classified lineage ads but that fell as people began to want to buy new (Ikea, etc) furniture and not want some faded or chipped old furniture. The old stuff might last lot longer but the likes of Ikea delivered — for a hefty price — but you didn’t need to hire van to go and collect old Mrs Dobbin’s teak dining table. Nobody wanted old tat any more when you could have smart, new and put-it-together yourself, even if it wouldn’t last long. You could always go back next year and get a cheap, bright and new whatever.
Any survey we did showed people were far more interested in ‘reading’ the paper for the night’s TV guide, and I used to estimate that the ‘life’ of the paper was no more than an hour a day. We used to joke that today’s papers were tomorrow’s garbage/dustbin liners but people started buying plastic bags for that and wrapping up the potato peelings in newspaper went out of fashion.
Worse was the fact that newsagents were not only disappearing but refused to home deliver the paper. The papers I worked on sought new outlets but I know of at least one case where the Chinese take-out food shop agreed to have five papers on a sale-or-return basis each day. Not only didn’t sell any but started sending back seven or eight copies. Plus there was a fanatical urge by local councils to ban parking: if people couldn’t stop their car and rush into a newsagent but had to keep driving they saw no reason to buy the paper at all.
When tinterwebz came along it offered a new market, of sorts, but everyone wanted it free. I worked on the fledgeling web version for one newspaper but it was impossible to get editorial interested then: they may have been young revolutionaries but they had no vision of change other than to stay firmly in a union and tell each other that it was all Thatcher’s fault, even though she had been out of power for half-a-dozen years by then.
All in all the decline of papers was a sad thing. We kidded ourselves that we were selling papers but increasingly the paper relied on handouts with the papers to stimulate interest. The day we got a deal to distribute a promotional can of beer with each copy of the day’s paper boosted circulation to dizzy heights for one day but left the streets littered with discarded papers as well as empty cans. If we needed any further proof we were irrelevant that was surely it.
Of course, since I left the newspaper business I have seen the rise of ‘opinion” masquerading as news, so unless you are one of the faithful — and that has to be lefty zealot — there is no point in reading yet another frothy but boring diatribe on global warming. Advertising was declining and despite what journalists said, their excitable articles were merely padding round the ads, which were getting fewer. (Incidentally, it wasn’t just readers who didn’t read the paper: an editor I knew complained that even his own writers didn’t read what they produced.)
Oh yes, and the price kept going up too. The few papers that are being sold began to require bank notes and not simply pocket change to purchase. Even a free can of booze begins to become expensive…
No one believes journos any more, either the leftist SJWs because they seem the organs of the capitalists and us because the MSM is so leftwing biased and Establishment.
I’d be interested in how many people subscribe and to which online news? How many subscribe to more than one? I was thinking of the Telegraph and the Speccie but both have become rags and in the former, comments are carefully controlled. I don’t want to see that, I want to see what people are saying and that is the biggest shift this decade.
Think about the home delivered paper of yore, plus the stall in the high street or at the train station – that, plus TV and radio was where the values came from. No reader feedback except through carefully controlled comments called Letters to the Editor. The Telegraph has attempted to roll back to that but it seems many are having none on’t and are moving laterally to Breitbart and similar.
Which itself is having its own crises during this presidential campaign.