To Be or Not To Be

May 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

Do you subscribe to your local newspaper? Yes? Then I encourage you to do the following:

1. Take today’s edition.

2. Cross out the commercial ads, Associated Press stories, syndicated columns, weather forecast, and TV listings.

The remaining content should be staff-written articles. Read them all. Then ask yourself: What did I learn that was NEW?

If your answer is “nothing” —> You’re wasting money. Cancel subscription.

If your answer is “a lot” —> You have a top-notch newspaper. Keep subscription.

If your answer is “a little —> Perform some thoughtful analysis: Do you have the Internet? Does the newspaper have a web site? Would you read news online if you had to?

If your answer to any of those questions is “no” —> Stay informed. Keep subscription.

If you answer “yes” to all three —> Put the paper out of its misery. Cancel subscription.

Newspapers are one of those rare commodities that increase in price as demand for them falls. Publishers can get away with  raising prices on newsstand copies and subscriptions because they know that there are people – most of whom I imagine are over the age of 60 – who will pay whatever price they set because they recognize the need for news, and paper is the medium they’re accustomed to. But these are the people perpetuating the stagnation of American journalism. And it is stagnant. If you don’t believe me, repeat steps 1 – 2.

With the Internet as fast, interactive, and ubiquitous as it is, demand for printed newspapers is incredibly elastic. The sooner publishers are forced to acknowledge this fact – as they will when they can no longer move their products – the sooner we can wrap up this unpleasant but necessary process known as creative destruction.



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Commodity Profile: The Oshkosh Northwestern Does the World Hate Newspapers?

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