Newspaper Publishing

The Problem With Newspapers Is That They’re Trying to be Magazines

I admit, while I’m very sad at the current state of the newspaper publishing industry, I’m part of the problem.

I haven’t had a subscription to a daily newspaper for a decade. It’s been more than a half dozen years since I had a weekend only subscription, and I don’t remember the last time I picked up a newspaper from a newsstand.

I recall the turning point.

I was sitting at my kitchen table, trying to warm up after having to trudge halfway down the walk to get my newspaper from where the paperboy left it on that cold February morning, and reading through the front section of my city’s major newspaper. When I was done the section and my coffee, I rifled through the rest of the paper to find the section that contained both the comics and the crossword, and threw the rest of the behemoth paper in the recycle box.

And then I realized what a monumental waste it was to have someone use all that paper and ink, plus the effort it took to get to my house, to deliver a paper I read maybe 1/8th of.

I have never read the sports section. I’ve never read the section on cars, gardening, fashion, condo living, real estate, or any of the other topics the newspaper decided to add.

What I wanted from my newspaper was news, and what they were trying to be was magazines. Not just one magazine, but a half a dozen magazines. None of which was I interested in. At all.

After I switched to online news, I noticed other benefits. I got to work faster, since my news was where the computer was, I didn’t leave black smudgy ink fingerprints on my coffee cup in the morning, and I had far less recycling to carry out each week.

Maybe the future of newspapers is online. Maybe it’s a scaled-down paper version. I don’t know.

But if the newspaper of the future comes in electronic format, beamed right into my kindle-like device, allowing me to choose only which sections I want to receive, I’d be the first in line to re-subscribe.

Because I kinda miss sitting in the kitchen in my jammies reading the newspaper before work.

No good news for newspapers

The news seems ever bleaker for the struggling newspaper industry.

While Hearst hopes that going online-only will help the Seattle Post Intelligencer finally eke out a profit, former Rocky Mountain News staffers are planning to launch an online newspaper if they can get 50,000 paying subscribers by the 23rd of April.

Meanwhile, Tuscon Arizona’s oldest newspaper, the Tuscon Citizen, is shutting down after 138 years.

And in San Francisco, Chronicle workers voted for concessions that they hope will save their paper. The Chronicle will cut 150 jobs, reduce paid vacation time, sick leave, and maternity and paternity leave, expand the workweek from 37.5 hours to 40 and gain the right to subcontract work instead of using union labor.