Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

The incredible shrinking newspaper-part 96

Posted on | February 15, 2007 | No Comments

Steven Rattner opines in the Wall Street Journal today on our favorite topic, the demise of print, and in particular, daily newspapers. The trend is clear; the graphic stark. We know the numbers, if not by heart then by gut. Overall readership in tailspin; young readers read newspapers at only half the rate they did in 1970 (and you wonder why our culture is so semi-literate today).
But we’re starting to hear the backlash to what really amounts to a serious problem for a free, democratic society: cultural and politcal intelligence.

Most fundamental is whether the public is still interested in news (as opposed to entertainment, gossip or lifestyle info). More than fearing the death of newspapers — they will struggle on — we ought to fear what changing reading and viewing habits are forcing newspapers to think of as news.

I see a microcosm of this in my own job. It’s not that the readers aren’t interested in news (they are and they’re predominantly an older demographic). It’s that our advertisers seem less interested in supporting news. (That’s for another post someday).
Rattner throws a Hail Mary pass at the end, suggesting that non-profit status could work or that the news model will change dramatically in other way (NPR, for example).
We’ll see obviously. But real takeaway is not that newspapers or print publications in general are in trouble, it’s that news is being redefined for us in a way that’s not healthy to a functional society. The silver lining is that as corporations and their corporate media partners take over the “news” business, millions of people are taking back the streets through the blogosphere. It’s noisy and not pretty, but it’s there, and there’s hope.
Here’s a link to Rattner’s complete piece.

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