As a child, reading the LA Times was a big part of my morning routine. As I grew older, the sections I read also grew with age. From only reading the comic section, to reading the Lifestyle and Sports sections, the newspaper had always been a way for me to get my news for the day or week. Newspapers played such an important role in society that it is sort of odd to think that now their are talks that the days of waking up and reading the Sunday sports section or even the latest movie review maybe over.
With the Tribune filing for bankruptcy, the fall of the newspaper industry has commenced. Just the other day on my way home I was listening on the radio how one newspaper was forcing its writers to take non-paid days off just to stay in business. While it is easy to blame the economy for companies going out of business, their are many reasons why the newspaper industry is where it’s at right now.
The Speed of Information
For every newspaper, their is a website for it. With that said, who would pay for something they can get free. This is an obvious reason to why the newspaper industry is struggling to survive. With individuals being able to read articles that are in the newspapers for free online, people see no reason to pay for a newspaper subscription. Not only does it save money, but in most cases you can find out about a story even before it reaches newspaper stands. The speed of the information travels faster than the newspaper companies can put them on stands. As a result of this, fewer and fewer people subscribe to them.
While newspapers have made the transition to news online, they have entered a market where they cannot win. The reason for this is simple. The market they are trying to dominate is already dominated by other websites. For example, newspapers used to make a decent revenue from the classified section. Today, when people need to post something to the classified section, they go straight to Craigslist.org and list it their. Why? Because it’s free. The age of information has two basic elements. The first is speed. People want information as fast as possible. Even waiting 5 minutes for information is considered too long of a wait in some instances. The second element is cost. People now consider their options and weigh the cost against benefits. With information being so readily accessible and free, newspapers that charge people to post ads automatically become unreasonable.
No Real Content
Of the newspapers I still read, my local newspaper is one of them. The reason I read it, is because I want to learn what is happening in my city and because I feel like what they write about has value and the writers opinions. When you look at the LA Times or even the NY Times, you will most often find the same articles. What most newspapers do now is take articles from the Associated Press or even Reuters and just insert it into their newspaper. For them, it saves time and money. Still, for the reader it brings no real value if you can find it any newspaper or even just hop online and read it from the AP or Reuters directly. If the newspapers wanted to keep readers, they would have written ‘real content’ that would have been engaging to their respective cities.
With companies going out of business, many will now wonder if it is the newspaper industries turn. Since it is now feasible that such a collapse is near, the newspaper industry may follow the steps of automakers and large financial corporations and ask for the same kind of help that the government gave them: a bailout.
If it comes to that, it is my opinion that the government will not help the newspaper industry. The reason is this: one of the key determinants to who has been getting bailouts are those that are deemed crucial to our economy as well as to society. Carmaker’s were able to make the argument that millions of jobs and hundreds of smaller industries would fall as a result of their collapse. The financial corporations made the argument that the economy would never recover if they collapsed. So what about the newspaper industry? If they collapse, the result would obviously be layoffs, but other than that, people would turn toward the internet for their information or to watching the news on TV.
If it does come down to the newspaper industry collapsing I will miss picking up the newspaper early in the morning and reading the sports section as I get ready for my day. In the end it is not that we don’t like reading the newspaper, but that all in all, newspapers have become obsolete.