Newspapers are, pretty much, dead


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I find it hard to decide whether Craigslist or Google killed the newspapers. A little of both, I guess.


It is more direct to say that the Internet killed newspapers.

I can see the argument that we are losing something of value by removing the editorial process from the news feed, forcing people to sift through information on their own, but it’s also true that newspapers have been doing a pretty bad job of that and it’s not an impossible service to provide on the web.

The graph in the article might as well be labeled “Effect of a disruptive technology on an established business.”


I suspect that both helped; but Craigslist struck the more architecturally brutal blow.

Unless newspapers actually used to be sustained by subscribers, and all those ads were just to pad the margins, Craigslist and its ilk can largely gut the newspaper and watch it bleed out without ever doing something newspaper-like.

Online news sources, by contrast, tend to be more convenient(and, to a debatable but probably nonzero degree, probably coast a bit on the activity of traditional news organizations); but they are in the business of providing a similar product through different channels.

If news gathering cannot survive without a (more or less artificial) connection to advertising and transaction handling, which are clearly handled better by other entities, it’s absolutely dead.

If news distribution is something that people don’t want to do on paper, and the existing outfits can’t change, there is at least theoretical room for somebody to build on the ashes.


If I’m reading that chart right , the newspaper ad revenue is still about 20,000 million dollars. Or $20,000,000,000.

Of course it is on the decline, but I wouldn’t call twenty billion dollars “dead.”

Also, as it is adjusted for inflation, it is similar to the 1950’s number…


Now someone needs to do a second graph showing revenues over the same time period for the music industry. Label it “effect of countering disruptive technology with endless lawsuits and lobbying before doing the sensible thing and adjusting the business model.”

Not that record labels are doing everything in a consumer friendly way. But at least they’re going to survive.

I bought a News & Observer the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find in-depth articles about important issues. Unlike many (most?) online news sources, the New & Observer wasn’t simply a repeater for whatever comes across the wire services.

ETA: It will be a shame when I can no longer go to the grocery store and plunk down some money for a newspaper once a year.


Given the tiny, tiny slice provided by online ads, I’d say journalism, as an industry, is dead.

Ad revenue is dead. Newspapers themselves are pretty cheap to print and distribute, especially given the increases in productivity over the last twenty years. If they would just shitcan the idea that ad revenue is “free money”, they might be able to rebuild the model by getting rid of ads altogether. Think of all the savings from getting rid of the overblown, mediocre egos of the ad-marketing department.


I’m a 27 year old male, considering getting a daily subscription to a newspaper for the first time.

Something struck me the other day, and triggered for me again with the first sentence of this post. Everyone seems to have assumed that getting real time, sharable news is a good thing. I’ve grown to find the cycle of checking the news ever 15 minutes to be extremely habitual, addictive and disruptive to my daily life.

I think I actually would like to get my news once a day in a containable, isolated format. Is it really such a big deal that the news is from yesterday? Do I have to know what happened RIGHT THIS INSTANT?


Well, it has certainly taken a hit, but blogs are not going to replace real journalism. Spouting opinions based on articles read elsewhere does not constitute journalism. We will always be in need of people who spend time and effort actually collecting interviews and information and then using real writing skills to distill that information into a coherent story.

One of journalists jobs is to keep an eye on the government and to expose corruption and keep shafts of light shining into the dark caves of power. People submitting video of cops beating people up is good for exposing obvious stuff, but we still need real journalists who are digging into the dark recesses of stuff that is not so photogenic.

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A couple of things about the chart and one about me:
As the source is Newspaper Association of America, I believe the stats are based on its membership of 2,000 newspapers, most of which are metro dailies. Those newspapers have been hardest hit, no doubt.
There are another 7,500 or so community newspapers in the United States. They have fared relatively well. And I don’t think either number accounts for free or non-English newspapers, of which there are typically dozens in most metro areas.
I don’t have a number for the actual number of newspapers worldwide, but I did see an estimate of daily readership of 2.3 billion. Newspapers are thriving in some countries.
As a disclaimer, I worked for newspapers for many years and still represent them. I won’t argue with the facts of the graph, but I do take exception to the gross generalization of the headline.


Another thing to remember is that, thanks to digital press, it got easier to print newspapers, so more people have been doing it. Basically, pre-digital press, there were a few major press places putting out news in print. It cost more, and was more complicated.

Then, it got fast and easy. At the same time, the internet was developing. So a lot of the smaller presses won’t survive the internet competition, because they really don’t have a long history behind them. I don’t think print press will die entirely, but I do think it’ll shrink back to what it looked like pre- digital press. Those have all moved online, or simply washed out.

In a few years people are going to look at Mike Judge’s movie “Idiocracy” and think he’s a visionary.

The most intertesting part of that chart is the red line. The internet is the future of news media!

And there too ad revenue is in a nose dive. It’s almost as if a non-ad-based business model, regardless of medium, is the way to go.


The fact that the bottom of the chart is at 10,000 instead of zero doesn’t help. It’s bleak, but this chart exaggerates the situation.


Good catch - I totally overlooked that.

Also, crosswords.


If newspapers die off completely, what will my fish and chips come wrapped in?