Saturday, March 14, 2009

That Sucking Sound: The Disappearing Newspaper

A few decades ago, most major cities had at least two major newspapers and many of them had morning and evening delivery. Today, newspapers are undergoing rapid decline and, for most of them, their futures are either digital or they will have no future at all. Those newspapers that will survive, will be free. Newspapers with a community focus that discusses the local boy or girl who has graduated from school or served the country with honor in the military and ones with a lifestyle or classified focus (jobs, homes, etc.) that are free will continue to continue to survive and maybe even thrive. The paid ones will quickly become history.

In the last few months we have seen the Rocky Mountain News fold in Denver, Colorado, the curtailing of days of delivery for the Detroit Free Press, and the move from a daily Christian Science Monitor to a weekly edition. This decline of newspapers is attributed to several factors:

The Internet has made the majority of content free. One of the strange answers by the industry, to the newspaper crises, is to raise the price on newspapers. This has only chased customers away to the vast array of sources available at not cost to the reader. The only newspapers that charge and may survive will have to fulfill a very specific function. The jury is out on that.

Information spreads best in a viral way, which lends very well to the Internet, but not newspapers. For years I use to clip articles, some times make copies to send to others, but usually lost them and tried to remember what the article I loved so much actually said. With the Internet, people can easily spread the word about the great article they have seen, pass it via email, and make the source a household name. With the Internet, organizing information is a breeze and it stands as far superior to the old methodology.

Archiving for future reference is very easy. I wanted to find out if the Internet is better than newspapers, so I did a Google search and I received millions of links. Remember going to the library, looking through periodical indices, and thumbing through countless newspapers or magazines to find an article? The Internet has changed all of that.

Many want to attribute the decline to the ideology that is pervasive among newspapers today. The liberal bias in newspapers is obvious and I think it is clear that this has hurt the credibility of the media in general. On TV, Fox News (which is described by the left as conservative, but in my opinion, strives for some level of objectivity) has more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined. I believe this is attributable to the liberal bent among Fox News competitors.

In spite of these realities, if paid newspapers had Glenn Beck types as their publishers, they would still be in decline because that form of print news would still be in decline. The Internet (and the rise of smart phones that brings Web information everywhere) is just a far superior technology. Conservatives need to stop merely complaining about the newspapers and their liberal bias and take advantage of the new battlefield which is online. Currently, the left is dominating the blogosphere. It is still relatively early in the game, but conservatives need to shelve their pass loses and focus on the future that is the Internet.

This article originally appeared at CNN650.com, part of the CBS Radio Network.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on CNN 650 (M-F at 11 am). Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business and says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com.

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