Friday, February 27, 2009

Is there a future for newspapers?

I’ve been hearing disturbing news about the newspaper business the past few days. Major companies that publish large dailies in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia have filed bankruptcy petitions. Smaller papers around the country are struggling. One network commentator stated flatly that newspapers will soon be gone, a casualty of the Internet.

For a writer who got his start as a newspaper reporter, that is a sad prospect to consider. I don’t know that I would go so far as to agree with the idea that newspapers are dead, merely waiting for somebody to shovel the dirt over them. But if they’re to survive, a lot of re-inventing will have to take place.

The traditional daily in Nashville, a morning newspaper that survived after its evening competitor, for which I once worked, fell by the wayside several years ago, has shrunk considerably from its former size and bulk. An old page out of my files measured 14 by 24 inches. The current 11 by 23 is a one-fourth reduction. Sections have been combined, some dropped, and the number of pages has steadily declined.

Classified advertising, once a mainstay of newspapers, has been decimated by Craiglist and other Internet sites. Newspapers have beefed up their online presence, but I understand the ad revenue from their Internet ventures isn’t sufficient to support the effort.

I feel about newspapers the same as I do books. I like the touch of the paper and the opportunity to sit and thumb through them at my leisure. I use the Internet quite a bit for research, for communication by email, and at times to read snippets of the news. But I hope the daily press will find a way to maintain its presence in our lives. I think we’ll be poorer for the loss if they don’t.

9 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Been hearing that newspapers are dying for a while, too.

I live in a small town with a really poor excuse for a newspaper, so we have not taken a home paper in years. My husband goes online to USAToday.com for his news and I usually hit CNN.com...

L. Diane Wolfe
www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
www.spunkonastick.net
www.thecircleoffriends.net

Marvin D. Wilson said...

I doubt if the printed newspaper is around for our grandchildren by the time they reach middle age - maybe even sooner. I too, enjoy the touch and smell of the daily rag. I also can't get with the ebook - doesnt feel the same. But they are here to stay and are the wave of the future. All my books are available in print and ebook. Kind of sad in a way, the passing away of hard copy - and then what if the internet ever crashes? No hard copies to record the era for future generations.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I can't imagine mornings without coffee and a newspaper!

Jane Kennedy Sutton
Author of The Ride
http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

Chester Campbell said...

I agree it's a sad prospect, but nothing changes like change. I'm at SleuthFest and just peeked in on this. Will have more to say later.

Chester Campbell said...

I agree it's a sad prospect, but nothing changes like change. I'm at SleuthFest and just peeked in on this. Will have more to say later.

Morgan Mandel said...

Hopefully, newspapers will survive. There are still some who like to do things the old fashioned way and feel good sitting down to the read the paper.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Sometimes I wonder if we're headed to having information beamed right into our brains with no sensory experiences left whatsoever.

I think reading comic strips on the computer is a pain, they load the page with so many ads and shrink the comic so small that you can't actually read the words. It's frustrating! I'm going to miss reading the paper version of the comics section by the fire at my in-laws house.

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Sometimes I wonder if we're headed to having information beamed right into our brains with no sensory experiences left whatsoever.

I think reading comic strips on the computer is a pain, they load the page with so many ads and shrink the comic so small that you can't actually read the words. It's frustrating! I'm going to miss reading the paper version of the comics section by the fire at my in-laws house.

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Sometimes I wonder if we're headed to having information beamed right into our brains with no sensory experiences left whatsoever.

I think reading comic strips on the computer is a pain, they load the page with so many ads and shrink the comic so small that you can't actually read the words. It's frustrating! I'm going to miss reading the paper version of the comics section by the fire at my in-laws house.