Friday, March 13, 2009

As Cities Go From Two Papers to One, Talk of Zero

This is pretty depressing. A New York Times article today states that the trend of American newspapers seems to be going toward the Internet, due to decreasing ad revenue and increasing debt resulting from the buyout of many newspapers. Given the fact that less people are reading newspapers anyway and more people are reading online (Nielsen, according to the article, states that "Daily print circulation has dropped from a peak of 62 million two decades ago to around 49 million, and online readership has risen faster, to almost 75 million Americans and 3.7 billion page views in January, according to Nielsen Online."), the fate seemed imminent. Some newspapers have resorted to cut off certain sections or pages in the newspapers to save cost, but that also loses customers who like reading those sections.

One article from Time Magazine I remember reading said that newspapers should consider charging people a price to view online news content, so that people will value what they purchase, like music (think iTunes, although I don't personally know how effective it is given music piracy). The article also mentions that this could help boost profit because newspapers, which rely on three sources of funding, newsstand sales, subscriptions, ad revenue, are already losing the latter, as previously stated. If they lose the latter when newspapers are heavily ad-reliant (like these days given more people read on the internet), the paper becomes unstable.  More people do read online, though. The article also suggests that people can pay a nickel, for lets say, a whole day's edition of the paper, or $2 per month. Not a bad idea. 

Closing newspapers raises this this issue: Where are the varying, competitive, and differing sources of news? I am grateful that I subscribe to YouTube's AlJazerra English Channel  (albeit, it's a internet source) because it gives me insight toward what goes on in Palenstine, for example, that an ordinary US newspaper might not be able to. Having different insights helps give one the bigger picture of the story. Think of 1984 - The goal of the Newspeak dictionary was to decrease the amount of words into one word under Big Brother. While the analogy might seem a bit radical, it does show you how limited expression can be if the different ways to say things (every synonym of a word, for example, has slightly different meanings) are all gone. 

Here is a graphic on the NY Times article stating the current fate of specific newspapers in specific urban areas across the United States. 

There are solutions that are out there to solve this problem, based on other news sources across the net. It would be sad if the newspapers the writers are writing from close down, which limits the solutions. 

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