Editors, and how bad ones are ruining the newspaper business
I get USAToday via email digital and I also get the actual paper edition. I rarely read the digital unless something holds up my "hold in my hand and read" edition. There is just something special about holding a paper under your arm while you wait for a seat at a busy diner. Then you sit down, order and get absorbed in the sports box scores or the crossword puzzle. I always save the front page and section for last as that is where the bulk of what really matters is. Some nights I take this section to bed and finish it, then write in my hand written diary with thoughts on the day. I finish the night/early morning with chapters of a hard cover book. I might be old fashioned but there are many like me-the aroma of paper printed or bound is something I can't imagine going without. And I would rather have a paper in my hand than a cigarette. This is a much healthier addiction.
Jan, my wife is with you on this. She cannot read news online. She plays games and checks her mail, but that's it.I admit to doing most of my newspaper reading online now, but I still will visit the home delivered FJ a couple times a week.I think there will be, at least for the forseeable future, folks who want to hold the paper in their hands.I'm glad about that.
I work at a newspaper and I don't read any news in print anymore. I have an iPad and an iPhone. I read my news in apps and online. I also read books and magazines in digital form -- if it doesn't come that way, i don't read it. The only time I pick up a print product anymore is to look for design ideas for our own publication, and when I am looking at one of our publications. I'm more willing to pay a subscription to online news than print news, and would if more local papers offered it. Only most of their websites are terrible, so I couldn't see paying for those. But charge me for an app, and I'm on it. I love the USA Today app for the iPad.
So young Mr. Young works at a newspaper but confesses he "doesn't read any news in print anymore." Call me a dinosaur, but as the guy who previously sat in his chair (literally) and hired him to his first 'newspaper' job not quite two years ago, that seems a shocking statement. Equally surprising, I would suspect, to the READERS and ADVERTISERS whose hard-earned monies STILL make it possible for Eric, his publisher and their coworkers to take home their paychecks. The future indeed!
Correction regarding the previous comment. I guess it's been all or 2 1/2 years now. Time flies ...
David Hunke was part of the braintrust that largely digitized the Detroit dailies four times a week, so it's not a surprise that he went back to that playbook at USAT. That said, I understand the movement toward digital delivery, but what's more disturbing is that the collapse in the business model has enabled -- to Mr. Neuharth's point -- very troubling newsroom/advertiser alliances that would have been unheard of in the "old" days. In the debate between digital/print, I hope we don't overlook the need to preserve good journalism, whatever platform it ultimately lands on.
Inky has a great point. The wall that used to stand between advertising and editorial has eroded and that IS a bad sign.
The fact that the "real" money from advertisers still goes to print and not online news is an important point also. Thanks for stopping by Eric.
It's just easier and much, much quicker to read online, instead of print. Saginaw, Flint and Bay City newspapers are smoking TV and getting the story first because of their new dedication to writing online.
I'd say most journalists 35 years old and younger don't read the news in print, and haven't for the better part of this decade. That's the nature of the beast today.
Anonymous 8:28: If that's true, and I have no way of knowing one way or the other because I don't check in that frequently, how does that translate into financial gains for the papers?Also, if that's true, I hope that the people producing that online copy and being paid at a rate that rewards them for their education and the time they put in at work.From what I know, the online ads don't even come close to creating the revenue stream that the newspaper does. If it did, they would have closed up the print shops long ago.
Mr Harrington, I think you missed my point that I am more than happy to pay a subscription fee for online news. Unfortunately, very few people offer one. And yes, people advertise in our papers because currently that is where the readers are. When the readers are all on the web, guess where those ad dollars will go. The problem is that everyone just wants to throw a PDF of their paper online and charge for it. That won't work. But someone is going to figure out what WILL work. Until then, the money still comes from print. There is so much more you can do online, that you can't do in print. Print is stale, whereas web is instant. I don't expect Mr. Harrington to understand -- he's the same one who nearly fell asleep in our meetings when we were discussing starting up our sites, and never even learned to post a story. Anyone who thinks that print will outlive web news is crazy. Period. Either get on board, figure out a way to make money doing it, or go down with the ship. Simple as that.My company is thinking about the future, and we're working to make the web as profitable as the print product. We'll see the rest of you on the other side! :-)
In the meantime Eric, many journalists who work for small, medium dailies are weeklies are working two jobs to pay college loans and make rent.
I work at a small community weekly paper Jim. Seriously, people can wallow in the fact that print sales are down or they can try to find a way to make the web thing work. There are plenty of people doing it successfully, but much of the newspaper industry is blind to it and unwilling to change.
Eric, we are not in disagreement. I believe that web is the future. What I don't believe is that newspaper companies are committed to paying appropriate salaries to the professionals who do the work.I wanted to pull up an obituary for a project I am working on from a newspaper in Visalia, California.The obituary was from 2006 and there was a pay wall between the brief abstract and the 42-word obituary.The newspaper wanted me to pay $11 for the complete 42-words. Guess what? I found the information posted elsewhere for free.The time to come up with a way for the web to work at a profit was in 1999. Instead the smart folks who ran newspapers gave the product away for free. Hard to get that mistake back in the bottle.But I do agree that some kind of model must be found for the web. But at the same time newspapers better not forget who pays the bills. That would be the folks who like to curl up with the paper in their hands.In the meantime, I have a lot of empathy for folks who are forced to work at newspapers full-time and then find a second job to keep the lights on at home.
The Flint, Saginaw and Bay City papers may be smoking something, but it isn't TV ... not on stories that matter, anyway.
The Web/Print question reminds me of the alternative fuels/oil proposition. Both the Web and alt. fuels will be important in the future, but not as fast as some think or want. There are generations of people who'll want a newspaper home delivered next to their gas powered cars for the next 10-15 years. The hype is way greater than the reality.
The hype.isn't greater than reality, because whoever figures it out now will be way ahead then. This is important now, and the people that think that it snit are wrong.
I think the person who left the note about papers smoking the TV with online news must work for one of the papers and likely is fairly young. TV has never been able to beat newspapers for real news, they may have been able to beat getting out the basic info, but anybody who wanted the indepth story just waited for the newspaper to come out to get the whole story. Todays papers may still get the news online quickly, but it is rarely any more indepth than the two minute stories that TV puts out. It's not just about being a town crier, it's about being an informant. Today's local papers, in this case the Saginaw, Flint, Bay City group, do what they can but rarely offer the kind of indepth reporting that used to be available. I stopped getting the Flint paper about six months ago, what they use to fill the space around the ads is rarely ever worth much. I've learned to live without it, never thought I would, but I do. It got to be that a Sunday paper took no more time to read than a Thursday paper. And that god-awful section that replaced the Entertainer is god-awful. The Sunday feature section is a silly waste of space. I don't think I'm alone, it's the sentiment I hear everywhere. "I miss the newspaper," pretty sad to hear considering there still are newspapers. What they really mean is "I miss the way newspaper used to be." This is not a reflection on those who still write, it's a reflection on the way the newspaper is run. The decisions on what is "news" is terrible. The people who count are those who sell ads. That's what pays for the paper and it's a bottom line, show me the money, business these days. The only newspapers I read now are online, The Detroit Free Press (LOVE LOVE LOVE their online design) and The New York Times (LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE their design). M Live is horrible. Too bad when Booth was getting rid of all the deadweight news writers they didn't toss out those designers, too.
So anonymous 15:34, you lament that today's Booth papers don't cover news in-depth anymore (and you're right), but then you say that the only papers you read today are online (Freep and NYT). I am going to make a wild assumption that you're aren't sending a subscription check to either of those papers to help pay the salaries of those responsible for their "great design." (Design? What about their Pulitzer-winning reporting?) And if that is the case, you're a freeloader.
Oakland...You're absolutely right. I don't pay. And I am a freeloader, but I promise you if they asked for a subscription tomorrow, I'd pay it in a heartbeat. Good design, good news....that's worth my money, always has been. But they give it away for free. Why? Why give away something people have always paid for? Because newspapers weren't prepared, once one place started putting stuff on line to get more readers, than a million more followed like sheep. Now nobody wants to pay because so much is for free. But I would pay for good news and good design. Your comment made me ask myself how much would I be willing pay, but I can't figure out the answer. Should I pay as much as I did for the paper, which used ground up trees and ink? Or would I pay less? And how much less? NYTimes Sunday edition is $6, weekdays is $2. Would I pay $16 a week, or even $8 a week (50% off first 12 weeks according to their website). Good question. What would you pay? And how do we get people to start paying for something that used to be free? It can be done. The Saginaw, Bay City and Flint papers used to do weddings and engagements for free (anniversaries too I think) now they charge. And did you see what happened once they started charging? Vast majority disappeared. But, some people are willing to pay. So when will newspapers figure this out?
I believe there has been in some ways an almost imperceptible change -- a move away from the Web to mobile devices. This is big and has has a huge potential impact (probably negative) on newspapers, many of which are still struggling to understand and adapt to the Internet model.Visit this web site and read the bullet points for plenty of evidence suggesting desktops and the Web are giving way to smartphones and iPads:http://www.admobilizers.comWhat does this mean to news? Hopefully, there will always be a market for news. But with things going mobile, at what cost to newspapers' advertising model, already problematic due to Web dynamics?
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