Thursday, April 14, 2005

Newspapers Are the News

Editor and Publisher shouts Circ Drops at 'Boston Globe,' Some Gains at 'NYT' and McClatchy Papers.
Matt Drudge is more blunt: Boston Globe suffers big circ decline, NY Times flat...

For me, one of the most unexpected social changes of the new millenium has been the death of the newspaper.

The withering away of ABC/NBC/CBS was predictable, once cable appeared, and the suicides of CBS News and the BBC were just embarrassing implementation details.

In contrast, the withdrawal of the L.A. Times from the national market, the Jayson Blair/Howell Raines scandal, the misreporting of Afghanistan/Iraq, and the dive in advertising revenues, though, were much bigger deals than most people -- or at least than I -- noticed as they were happening.

Blogs and Craig's List seemed just to be there, one day. Remember how only geeks had computers and you went out for coffee and by the time you got home everyone was giving you his email address and "to
google" was a verb? Same feel.

It's as big and fanfare-less a change as the quiet death of radio. And, just as talk radio gave the medium a new life and new face, 50 years later, I'll bet that newspapers will be reborn in 50 years in some form that none of us can predict today.

Meanwhile, they'll have to find some niche market to keep them alive. Radio survived through Top-40 stations. What will it be for newspapers? The National Enquirer?

Postscript:
Meanwhile, it looks like the Boston Globe needs to be put on suicide watch, but the Wall Street Journal -- a paper that's business-savvy -- has, not only seen the handwriting on the wall, but is paying attention to it.

And, proving that he must be reading my blog, Craig Newmark, of craigslist.org, is thinking about the fate of newspapers, too.

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