Tuesday, December 06, 2005

You need a newspaper

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but it never got posted. The numbers have probably changed, but no newspaper fairy has sprinkled any pixie dust on anyone, that's for sure, given the latest news about layoffs at the Tribune papers, including the L.A. Times.

According to L.A. Observed (via password-protected L.A. Business Journal):

Weekday circulation at the Daily News fell 5.1% to 169,379.

L.A. Times down to 843,432 (or 869,819, depending on who you ask), a drop of about 3.6% to 3.7%.

As an employee of one of these publications, I think what these newspapers do is often vital and entertaining, comprehensive in a way that television news is not -- and simply the vital trunk from which blogs like these form the weaker, more annoying branches.

Ah, the convenience of taking the newspaper with you to the breakfast table, the local Starbucks, even the bathroom -- surely a place no laptop need venture.

And newspapers are changing. They want to be relevant, and nobody has their head in the sand. Nobody's talking about the magazine business closing up shop because people like to read things on the Web for free. All print media, newspapers and magazines alike, is experimenting with the right mix of paper, traditional Web pages, blogs, e-mail, even cell-phone-delivered news, to figure out the best way to grow their news business.

I will say one thing. You will be smarter if you read a newspaper daily. At least you will seem smarter, and that's what counts, isn't it?


Andrew said...

Is it possible that papers are losing readers because they are trying to be "relevant" (a horrible word from the 1960s)? They want to appeal to an imaginary demographic that they can sell to advertisers. This ideal idiot is a 29 year old millionaire who spends thousands on electronics, computers, shoes, vacations, restaurants, movies, DVD's, real estate, etc.

The trouble is this person doesn't exist in great numbers. So the papers get dumber with more Hollywood stories, more articles about how to improve "me" and my body, more stories about children, food, travel, wine coolers, etc. and less about the world and the hard international and governmental stories that used to make up the newspaper.

The national TV news is a good example of how stupidity and an incuriousity about the rest of the planet is actually driving young Americans away.

Ilene said...

...and then the L.A. Times pulled themselves out of Chatsworth today, vacating 26 acres and firing over a hundred people. I guess all that Westside coverage failed to make them relevant over here in the valley.

Andrew, the fact of the matter is that most people turn to magazines (Newsweek, Time, New Yorker) for hard international and government stories because they cover them expertly in a way that newpapers really cannot these days. And frankly, more people are interested in feature stories and human interest (Column One in the Times) than they've ever been - probably because they get their hard news on the internet or magazines, and because well, the news just isn't that good with the Repugs in power these days, is it?