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If newspapers disappeared tomorrow, would you care? Would you notice?

Those of you who work in journalism, or intend to, or who even simply read newspapers might be interested in a damning critique of the press over at Rogue Columnist.

It’s been a while since I worked in newspapers in-house myself. And then was in the UK, not in the USA, But I have to say, it all rang true to me:

“Significantly, investment in the unique intellectual capital of newspapers – journalism – was constantly reduced. Newsrooms lost much of their top talent. Marketing, more important than ever in business, was never a newspaper strength, and was cut to the bone. Research and development received little more than lip service, or was another tool to hand down demands for shorter, dumber, fluffier stories.”

It’s very serious piece about the dumbing down of the newspaper industry, the undermining of serious journalism, and the effects this is having on American society.

However, you know how it is when you read something that hits the spot because it’s just so true, because it hits the nail on the head. You have to laugh:

“The biggest problem, of course, had nothing to do with the newsrooms. It was the collapse of an unsustainable business model. Simply put, the model involved sending miniskirted saleswomen out to sell ads at confiscatory rates to lecherous old car dealers and appliance-store owners.”

Yes, that’s exactly what was going on at several of the newspapers I worked on. That was their business model.

But now that Google has virtually taken over the world of advertising, I’m not convinced the majority of newspapers, especially local ones, can survive much longer.

And you know what? I don’t think I even care. Newspapers have dumbed down so much most of them have become pointless anyway. If there’s a need for serious journalism, I think the internet will have to meet that need, somehow. How that will happen, I’m not sure.

But I know for my part I don’t read newspapers anymore. I don’t have time. If I want topical, there’s the internet. If I want something more thoughtful or enduring, then I have piles of books to read.

What do you think? Have newspapers got much of a future? And do you even care?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • moi February 5, 2008, 4:56 am

    1) No, I don’t think that they have much of a future. Not the big ones, at least, but there’s something very human about having a paper that is loyal to the community, simple because its editors, producers, and advertisers are the community.

    2) I do care! Ever since I was, say, twelve, I’ve loved sitting down on Sunday morning with a hot cup of beverage (coco, tea, coffee, hot water… our family has odd drinking preferences) and flipping through the local paper. Always looking for the funnies, of course, and spotting out the ones that have been there, and will be there, whether they’re digitized or not. Boy, that cat sure loves lasangna!

    (Please forgive the sppelnig.)

  • Simon February 6, 2008, 11:47 am

    Moi, I agree with you about the joy of sitting down to read a newspaper on a quiet Sunday – although it’s usually afternoon for me. The problem is, I so rarely find the time. I also feel guilty about buying a Sunday paper here in the UK, because they are huge – half a rain forest worth – and most of it goes straight into the recycling without even being opened.(Business section, anyone?)