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Internet could kill local papers

A new Harvard study shows newspapers and television losing news audiences to the internet. The AFP report is at Breitbart.com:

News audiences are ditching television and newspapers and using the Internet as their main source of information, in a trend that could eventually see the demise of local papers, according to a new study Wednesday.

"As online use has increased, the audiences of older media have declined," Harvard University professor Thomas Patterson said in a report on the year-long study issued by Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

"In the past year alone... newspaper circulation has fallen by three percent, broadcast news has lost a million viewers," said the study, entitled "Creative Destruction: An Exploratory Look and News on the Internet."

Meanwhile, the numbers of people using the Internet as a news source have increased -- exponentially, in some cases.

Read the entire article at the link above. The news industry as a whole has failed to understand the potential of the internet as the "information superhighway" of Al Gore's imagination. Newspaper publishers in particular are notoriously slow to adapt to new technology, preferring to assume things are best done the way they've been done in the past. Only the Wall Street Journal has been able to make the paid-subscription model work. The rest of the nation's thousands of newspapers just can't figure out how to make money to replace falling circulation and advertising revenues. The New York Times just announced it is abandoning its "Times Select" pay-to-read content as it failed to generate the level of interest and income anticipated.

I can just picture some publisher sitting in his office berating a manager for daring to suggest they venture something new and risky. "Son," he might say, "People were paying for day-old news before you were born, and they'll keep on paying long after you're gone. I've seen plenty of these new-fangled gimmicks come and go - and I'm still here. Now get the hell out!"


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Comments (14)

actually, I believe it may ... (Below threshold)

actually, I believe it may kill metropoliton newspapers ... ie LATimes, NYTimes, et al...before it kills the local paper

Does the internet give local high school football scores? A roundup of the last city council meeting?

THAT is what true local papers will excell at and still have a following.

The net is great for national/international news...not so good at the micro local stuff.

I presume that by "local pa... (Below threshold)

I presume that by "local papers" he means local dailies, including those you mention. Smaller community papers which publish less often tend to have niche audiences which will help them last longer, as you suggest.

I gave up my local rag (Ari... (Below threshold)

I gave up my local rag (Arizona Republic) 2 years ago.

No regrets.

Haven't read my only loco s... (Below threshold)

Haven't read my only loco spewspaper since the demise of the original Sacto. Union back around 1990. I take great pleasure in watching the only daily in town that is left (very left), as it sputters and spurts to a pathetic bit of insignificance. Craigslist rapes their classifieds and most folks have grown weary of their socialist pap being sold as actual journalism. They have so many telemarketers trying to cram that crap down our throats that it has become a sport around here, to try and enlighten one of the poor saps to the ant-American, anti-military views of the swill they are selling. I "turned one out" the other day, it was very rewarding.

How 'bout that, pudge, working to make his community a little brighter by shining the light of truth on the local dank, dungeon masters over at lefty incorpiated. Sad thing is, the same folks own the Pittsburgh Pirates. They can't soil my memories of Roberto Clemente though, for he is still, The Greatest Player Ever to Dawn a Baseball Uniform. Still, it is sad that they are owned by the publishing equivalent of Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson.

Who wants yesterday's newsp... (Below threshold)

Who wants yesterday's newspaper?

We need a Harvard Study to ... (Below threshold)

We need a Harvard Study to know this? This has been obvious to anyone with an IQ over room temperature for years. BTW it won't be long before the internet busts the Big Education racket as exemplified by Harvard by delivering educational services much more economically. I also agree with everything Darleen said. The truly local papers will survive.

The writing in my local pap... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

The writing in my local paper is, well... you have to read it to believe how truly awful it is. Shades of 4th graders writing "What I did on my summer vacation."

The reason I don't rely on ... (Below threshold)

The reason I don't rely on the local paper anymore is I can't trust it to be accurate. The internet can also have problems with accuracy, but through multiple voices I have a much better chance of identifying the inaccuracy. Further, the internet tends to do a better job linking to original sources and to providing timely corrections.

The MSM is killing itself by pursuing a biased political agenda rather than being a source of news.

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! We ... (Below threshold)

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! We have a winner! Give yetanother john a cigar.
The Internet is killing papers because it's shown that most newspapers work at too low a level of facts to be useful as an informational source.
These days, newspapers deliver affirmation not information. Why else is Jon Stewart considered 'news'?

bungalowlife - I'm waiting ... (Below threshold)

bungalowlife - I'm waiting to see how long it takes for people to stop sending their kids to liberal colleges where they are brainwashed or harrassed by ultra-left profs.

There has to be a way to educate young people outside that model. Which way will it go? Conservative colleges? Online learning with scheduled classes periodically?

Also, some day the dam will break on vouchers. There really is no need for "public" schools.

Darleen, some of the newspa... (Below threshold)

Darleen, some of the newspapers use their blogs to make the micro news very accessible and alive on the internet. Many don't.

"Newspaper publishers in pa... (Below threshold)

"Newspaper publishers in particular are notoriously slow to adapt to new technology, preferring to assume things are best done the way they've been done in the past."

That's crap. Newspapers have been computerized for decades now -- long before Microsoft came along. My first daily newspaper computerized its newsroom in 1975. I had the oddity of writing my first story on a manual newspaper, my second one on a computer terminal.

Newspapers deserve criticism on many fronts, but they have been ahead of many industries in developing tech. My current employer began storing news stories electronically in 1985 in anticipation of the Internet and went only in February 1996.

When did Wizbang go online again?

Well, Don, maybe your newsp... (Below threshold)

Well, Don, maybe your newspaper archives story for the net, but do your neighbors depend upon it for news?

Don ~ I'm sure some newspap... (Below threshold)

Don ~ I'm sure some newspapers got it right, with over 3000 of them in the country. If yours was ahead of the curve in archiving content for the web, that's great - were they able to profit from it?

Many papers got in on computerization early - but all too often, it was from cronies or slick presentations at conventions, obsolete before it was installed.

If we're comparing anecdotes, let me recall a visit to the customer service center of a Fortune 500 media company, a top-ten group in the '80s, to see the department head. I saw a woman with a desktop calculator working at a computer screen and asked what she was doing. The service calls were recorded by circulation district, but not totaled, so she did it on the adding machine. The department head told me they had sent a request, but were told it would have to wait until the next upgrade of the system.

It seems the proprietary software couldn't be modified by the company programmers, and they had been forbidden to call tech support because of the high rates charged.

I've met over a dozen managers from smaller newspaper who were subjected to a proprietary hardware and software system popular back in the day. The name sounded good, but the expense of operation was outrageous. This delayed the adoption of true desktop publishing among smaller papers for years.

Any paper which can do it right and make money, I salute. They are few and far between, as evidenced by the falling circulation and ad revenue numbers for the industry at large.

If you're saying newspapers are healthy and on the cutting edge of technology, well, I see that as akin to second marriages: the triumph of hope over experience.

To cut trees and use other resources to deliver to me tomorrow what I can get digitally tonight doesn't seem a viable market plan for the future.






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