Newspapers are a dying breed

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Tom Keating
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Newspapers are a dying breed

Newspapers are continuing their downward spiral of advertising revenue due to increasing pressure from online news sources, including blogs, according to MediaPost which quotes a WallStreet report.

IT'S OFFICIAL: 2005 WILL BE the newspaper industry's worst year since the last ad industry recession. And things aren't looking much better for next year either, according to a top Wall Street firm's report on newspaper publishing. "Sadly, 2005 is shaping up as the industry's worst year from a revenue growth perspective since the recession impacted 2001-2002 period," says the report from Goldman Sachs, adding a warning that meaningful growth in 2006 is "very unlikely." more...

Newspapers are the least visually pleasing of any news media since there is little if any color and they aren't interactive. The days of Al Bundy carrying his trusty newspaper to the "john" are over my friend -- and I say this a good thing. Most newspapers are owned by huge media conglomerates that often pretend to be unbiased but they still have to report to their stockholders, management, or editors which have an ideological slant to the Right or Left.

Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, and college courses that "drill" into journalists heads the need to stay 'objective', journalists are still human beings with the same human failings and weaknesses. The days of just 3-4 major U.S. newspapers deciding what news was worthy to print and what Americans should know about are over. The Internet has changed the news media forever and it may even be impacting dictatorial countries such as China that are attempting to stem the flow of democratic ideals by censoring bloggers.

The beauty of the Web and specifically bloggers is if you write something inaccurate, the blogging community will usually call you on it and you will lose respect. For whatever reason, newspapers have this "armor of invincibility" that no matter how many times they get a story wrong and do or don't print a retraction they still have a great deal of respect and trust by most citizens around the world. Newspapers can do no wrong. Bloggers don't have this aura or shield of invincibility and therefore are more apt to protect their reputation. (The reputable and well-known bloggers anyway.)

Now, this is not to say bloggers aren't perfect. Because they don't have an editor proofing their work, doing fact-checking, etc, or even a boss to report to, bloggers can and do make stuff up (aka lies). Nevertheless, most of my technology news comes from blogs or other online sources that have "earned" a level of trust. Conversely, newspapers have enjoyed a level of inherent "trust" that dates back hundreds of years.

Even with the inherent level of trust in newspapers, the days of printed newspapers are numbered. They are not interactive enough, they are "timely" enough, and they don't allow for instant readership input and feedback that online news sources do allow. Instead of Al Bundy carrying his newspaper into the "john" I foresee both men and women carrying their PDA/mobile phone, Blackberry, or other wireless portable device to the bathroom to check up on news, check email, and surf the Web.

I know many of you that read this blog already carry your Blackberry or other tech gadget to the lavatory due to email, news, and information separation anxiety. C'mon admit it! ;)

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