For those living close to New Orleans on Aug. 28, 2005, the devastation was incalculable.
When the hurricane blasted through and destroyed countless lives, the inadequacies of southern coast storm control were brutally exposed.
Should have prepared. Should have seen this coming.
Maybe those of us living in the technology ravaged areas of print journalism should have seen our own Katrina coming.
In the area I grew up in, the conservative Bible Belt of the Northeast, fiscal responsibility takes on deeper meaning. Savings is a way of life. If you can get something at low cost, – or even better, if you can get it for free – why not take it? Why feel any remorse for taking advantage of a free offer?
I suspected as much with the Internet, and what it gives us for free.
One day, while doing crunches at the local gym, I overheard a conversation between two guys who were puffing away on some elliptical machines. They were talking about where they get their news. One was a Patriot News (the Harrisburg, Pa. newspaper) reader who asked the other gentleman about where he gets the news. The guy says he gets it online, so he doesn’t subscribe to the paper anymore.
And they think the newspaper will continue to have the Website if there is no longer any paper?
In my full-time day job, I recently spoke to a client near the Philadelphia area who was given a full-page, full-color ad in a major Sunday newspaper. The guy said the ad did not generate the business he thought it would. Or so he believes. He has given up entirely on print, believing the pundits that insist “print is dead” and that every, and I mean every, buying decision will be based on online information.
Print is dead, long live print!
In days long gone, online news material was provided to BOOST subscribers for newspapers and magazines. The intent was to reach more people who did not know about certain publications or who didn’t subscribe. So the subscription form appeared online to expedite new readership. That’s it!
Since then, as free information was provided to tease or entice people to subscribe, the practice simply got out of hand, where Web managers believed that more was better. Too much, I suppose (sorry for the sarcasm) was best.
Today, I explained to the gentleman from Philly, those Websites still can't make money, and the newspaper gave him a page so THEY can stay in business. No newspaper, no Website, period.
I would not want to live in a world without newspapers. But the gentleman seems perfectly content with that idea. I suspect that he never really enjoyed newspapers and couldn’t care less if they just went away.
Like watching a catastrophic event, what people deem the “death of print” in disseminating news, I shudder. Will newspapers die? They might as long as people continue to believe they will!
In a world without newspapers and magazines:
- Where is your nonbiased, balanced news? That will be gone to “bloggers” who are literally “talking out their butt,” a journalist slang for not knowing anything about what they are talking about and simply making up stuff as they go along.
- If the Patriot News and other papers fold, there won’t be an unbiased news Website or any Website, for that matter. Then who knows what to believe about what you hear?
- What about the people (and there are many) who simply refuse to look at a computer screen for their news. These people are not going to change. Why do we continue to believe that a change in technology is going to automatically bring about a change in human behavior?
The Internet has spelled the death toll of interest in newspapers, not the dedicated readers. Readers continue to assume there will always be newspapers. But if they don’t support them, or subscribe to them, their death is assured.
The only joy in what I have read recently is Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that News Corporation will finally be charging for online print. Finally! Now, newspapers will be the cheaper source, and this could finally result in a resurgence of newspaper readership.
During my entire journalism career, I have always believed that news content is a commodity. Who gives away their product for free? Why should we give that away at all? Does Ford give away free F150s? They know better.
Free content on the Internet will disappear in 10 years. Count on it.
True Review continues to remain online, simply because without ad support, it is merely a labor of love. But I have bills to pay as well. If this wasn’t purely a labor of love, you would see True Review in all the newsstands.
Newsstands. Wait, do we even have those anymore?