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Newspapers Continue The Quick March To Oblivion

14 Apr 2009 | | No Comment

Prepare yourself for a ton of headlines this week that include the words “newspapers”, “advertising”, “down”, “fall”, “decline” and “oblivion” as publishers begin to report their first quarter results for 2009. As this New York Times article reports, industry executives and analysts expect to see advertising declines as high as 30% for some newspapers.

 They are expecting declines sharp enough to wipe out profit margins at many papers that, despite two years of battering, had stayed comfortably in the black, and to push already-weak publishers closer to bankruptcy, perhaps even closure. “I think over all we’re going to see a decline somewhere in the mid-20s” compared to the first quarter of last year, said Edward Atorino, a media analyst at the Benchmark Company, a research firm. “There have been a lot of signals that things have gotten much worse in the last couple of months — the furloughs, the pay cuts, the layoffs.”

The demise of newspapers has been quick, but not surprising, and it goes without saying that the killer has been the Internet and the online news aggregators, such as Google News, that it spawned. Simply put, these online news aggregators are just too good. They provide you with quick, easy access to an unimaginatively wide range of news sources, from both well known news outlets and smaller niche outlets — and even bloggers. You only read what you’re interested in and after you’ve finished reading you just close the browser, there’s certainly no pile of old newspapers that need to be recycled.

Compare this with newspapers, which provide you with yesterdays news today and articles from the same writers and “opinion makers” day in and day out and it’s not hard to see why people start looking for other sources of news. But no one really has time to read multiple broadsheets these days, so they start looking online.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reading newspapers (the old variety) some days. But it’s usually on weekends, when I’m intentionally trying to avoid using the computer. The problem with this is that, I don’t know any of my contemporaries who do the same. Which makes me think that if the newspapers aren’t dead by the end of this decade… well, they’re living on borrowed time.

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