A world where newspapers were dying out just would have been incomprehensible to my dad. Reading the papers every day was such a big part of his life.
Mine, too. My dad got three daily newspapers, daily -- back when there were three daily newspapers to get, plus various community papers. Plus, any time he wanted, and he often did, he'd get papers from Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
I found this story heartbreaking: A guy has a collection of newspapers marking historic events amassed since the 1920s ... and nobody wants it. "Extra, Extra: Historic Newspapers Free to All Comers"
It also scares me because I have a collection of newspapers marking historic events*, and now I don't know what do with them. If nobody wants his collection, who's going to want mine?
* Including V-E Day, the astronauts landing on the moon, 9/11, Mount St. Helens, the Unabomber Manifesto, President Obama's election, and the final editions of The Washington Star, the Baltimore News-American, the Baltimore Evening Sun, and Jet magazine.
I had a small collection of newspapaers dating back to when I was in high school. I still have some of them, but I left quite a few behind when I sold my mom's house last year. I kept "John Lennon Slain," "Cardinals Win World Series," "Space Shuttle Explodes," one split down the center with dual coverage of President Reagan's innaugeration and the release of the Iranian hostages and others. Some are from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, others are from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.I also have the first issue of the short-lived St. Louis Sun (which wikipedia tells me was dated September 25, 1989) as well as the last issue (April 25, 1990).
On his way home from a show in the '90s, the owner of the then-LCS bought a 10-foot tall stack of bound editions of an Indianapolis newspaper. HGis idea was to cut out the comics and assemble collections, but when that turned out to be too labor intensive, he sold the voluymes outright @ $20. I bought the one covering the Kennedy assassination. I would liked to have bought more, but I was strapped for cash at the time.
Needless to say, my experience at my old newspaper was much the same. Every new owner or publisher trotted out the same, tired lies, and we had to pretend to believe them.
This is from a few months ago, but still holds. From The Associated Press: "Decline in Readers, Ads Leads Hundreds of Newspapers to Fold"
The "newspaper" I'm working for now, The Daily Memphian, is online only, which certainly cuts down on overhead. But more importantly, it's a non-profit, which means A) we can ally with other non-profits, and B) we can take donations.
And, in fact, that is our business model. We do take ads, and the revenue is welcome, but primarily we are paid for by donations. Without giving out any proprietary information, you can judge how we're doing by noting that we're hiring.
Newspapers reducing number of print days per week I feel as though print newspapers are going to become like rides in horse-drawn carriages. They'll still exist, but only as curiosities.
Wow. Clicked into this thread and I think my jaw dropped while reading my first response here and ticking off the number of things I mentioned that I later experienced! It's a bit of a relief now to be out of the print industry but still contributing to journalism in my community through a growing digital platform.
I think excellent journalism is vital to a strong community. It's sad to see the print industry caught up in corporate games and struggling to make a successful transition to a primarily digital audience while still honoring and serving their aging, legacy print audience.
Circulation losses are a given by now. They might bottom out at some point, but more likely, newspapers are going to demand a system that measures online use in addition to circulation numbers for a more accurate representation of their importance in their communities. That's because, despite the bad news, newspapers remain a primary source of news and information in their areas, but that's being obscured.
There's no doubt that circulation and (more importantly) advertising losses have hampered newspapers. But the biggest issue has been the speculators who bought into newspapers before the recession hit. Those groups -- in particular, the owners of the Chicago Tribune group and the McClatchy group -- saddled themselves with outrageous debt for papers that immediately began losing value. Their cost-cutting is what's harming the long-term viability of newspapers. They're making the whole industry look worse with desperation moves such as endless job cutting, printing newspapers hundreds of miles from their hometowns (so they don't contain up-to-the-minute information) and consolidating copy desks and design desks regionally (so that a person editing a story about the street where you live has never even lived in your state). These decisions will erode credibility, make selling newspapers individually more difficult and prove a longer-term detriment over their short-term savings.
Credibility is what matters to papers. That's what attracts readers to them, whether in print or online, and in turn, that's what makes them desirable to advertisers. Preserving credibility is the root of the issue. The danger to newspapers is when those in charge don't care about that.