Newspapers and news magazines, one of the most reliable sources of information about the world we live in, are failing thanks to the proliferation of free blogs and sites like Craiglist that offer free classifieds, undermining paid add placement pg 8.While it is true that newspapers and magazines are failing, it does not necessarily follow that this is due to blogs and Craigslist. Circulation is certainly declining, but is because of blogs? A study by the Pew Research Center as reported in the State of the Media Report 2007 suggests the following reasons:
Why People Are Not Reading the Newspaper
"What is it that you like less about newspapers compared with TV, radio or the Internet?"
|Don't have time|| |
|Don't like to read|| |
|Inconvenient to get/don't subscribe|| |
|Not interesting/nothing there|| |
|Cost/not free|| |
|Layout (small print/big pages)|| |
|Just pile up/clutter|| |
Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, “Online Papers Modestly Boost Newspaper Readership,” July 30, 2006
I can think of several other reasons that Americans might be abandoning newspapers.
- The consolidation of newspaper ownership reducing the points of view expressed in an area.
- Americans increasingly distrust newspaper journalism (see below)
- Corporate ownership of newspapers driving profitability goals. Since state and national reporting is a big expense, many newspapers have reduced their news staff and have focused more intensively on local (and less expensive to report issues)
Overall, local daily newspapers sat on the lower end of the scale among media on believability, lower than CNN, Fox News, NPR and local television, and above only the Associated Press. In 2006 19% of people said they believed all or most of what they read in their daily paper, down 10 points in eight years. (Another 40% believed a good deal of what they read in the paper, though less than “most”).Looking in today's Baltimore Sun, I found one small paragraph on page 7 about the crisis in Burma/Myanmar, nothing on Darfur, and barely anything about Iraq or Afghanistan. Is it a wonder that we have no clue about what the world thinks about us.
I believe that newspapers lost their audience log before Web 2.0 and blogs came along. Many newsrooms abandoned international coverage, professionalism and integrity for profitability. This is reflected in the drop in circulation and subsequently, advertising. Many people are turning to blogs or major newspapers online coverage to get the news that the local papers cannot or will not cover.
Keen does bring up a good point about the demise of news staff and professional journalists. I hope that the public will always support good journalism wherever it can be found. It is worth its weight in gold. But I maintain that newspapers abandoned us long before we abandoned them.