NEWSPAPERS, THE DYING BREED?
The baby boomers and most of the generation X love their newspapers. One looks toward a cup of coffee or tea and enjoying the newspapers, in the comfort of one’s home. So why is this industry dying? One cites this as due to the economy in general. But is this really the case?
Yes, there are the usual decisions not to purchase a paper. “I just don’t read them and it just pile up.” “I have an eye disease and I have had to cancel my subscription.” I am allergic to newspaper print.” “ I hate to recycle.” “ I live in an apartment complex and the papers are placed in front and others steal my paper.” “I live in a gated community where all the papers are placed at the gate and are stolen.” “I don’t want to kill trees.” “I get my news online or by television only.” And last but not least “The papers are too liberal or the editorials do not speak the truth.”
Since it is suggested that we go green, let’s first discuss the on-line situation. There are now two on-line versions. There is the version that is free on the internet, which although is a fragment of the actual newspaper, in this economy it is the one most read. It does not matter that one can get cookies attached to their computer because of the advertisements which support the free internet news. Most feel it is free. Although the free on-line version advertises the type of circulation to be provided, the articles shown are usually those which are the heavy hitters in the news. Instead of placing the entire story on-line, take hint from the insurance industry, where if you wish to secure the full article, you need to subscribe to the on-line or paper version of the insurance news site or you will only get a portion of the news. So newspapers, if you are in the business of selling your product, then why place the full story on the internet. Choose only that which acts as an enticement so that someone will buy your newspaper. Why would anyone want to purchase something if the majority of the news breaking stores is on-line?
The second type of on-line version of most newspapers relates to an exact replica of the actual print edition which you may access directly under the Newspaper’s site. You can maneuver the paper replica to choose the page you wish to look at, you may open up an article with a click of a mouse into a full sized screen where you may change the fonts for easier reading. Some of these editions translate up to 40 different languages so if you or family members may not read English, and you own a computer, you are able to read the news in the language of choice. Some e-editions keep archives for a month while others provide them for twelve months back. The search vehicle is easy to use and will bring forth all such back articles. All articles may be e-mailed and for the businessperson who travels here or abroad, as long as you have an access to the computer, you may input your code to retrieve the latest edition of the newspaper. For those who feel they are killing trees, this is the real deal. And especially if you live in remote areas of the mountains, as long as you have an ISDN line of some sort or access to the internet, you can receive your news without the worry of a delivery boy or walking two miles to your mailbox if snowmobiles are not available. .
Yet it is amazing that when the electronic edition of the newspaper is offered to one citing they receive their news on-line, the answer is still “No!” It is usually followed by, “I get enough news on the free internet. Why would I pay for a newspaper on-line?” There you have it. Think like an insurance person, newspapers, if you wish for your circulations to go up, whether in paper form or on the internet. Less is more when your circulation grows.
So Newspaper Companies, let’s shoot ourselves in the foot some more. Publishers have let go of its editors because they are cutting costs. But what has happened as a result? The newspapers are becoming smaller and are utilizing such articles as those from United Press International, rather than providing good articles from research. It used to be that one purchased the paper because they were fond of a specific writer’s editorials and could not wait for the next paper so that they could see what would be written the next day. It was like having a soap opera unfold or similar to reading your favorite comic strip. I guarantee that without the old and new writers providing special articles to the public, there is definitely not a reason to buy your newspaper. After all, the TV has more because they actually employ writers for their commentators to bring forth the news on wire in new light.
With that said, there seems to be a bias in the news. Every newspaper is concerned about government intervention or provocation if articles do not match that of what is considered liberal today. If one states this is not the case, let’s look at the ACORN situation. It has to become overwhelmingly blatant for the true news to come out. Everyone has first amendment rights, so why are the newspapers so reluctant to print the news accurately? Many who purchased newspapers previously and consistently for more than 20 years because they enjoyed the news are reluctant to again receive circulation. They will then cite the newspaper as being a “Liberal Rags” among other names not too fond. They advise they hope that their departure will take notice on the newspaper so that the truth will prevail in reporting. I do not have to go further on this because each knows what is being printed and why. But take notice, you have a duty to print accurate news stories.
I must also question why National and State News publications no longer include trader information. Without Stock Market information, businesspersons and those who are retired will drop your newspaper in a heartbeat and order the Wall Street Journal or other publication which includes trader information.
Let’s next look into the smaller newspapers of communities which may have been purchased by a larger newspaper syndicate. Again, where are the reporters and where is the logic behind such reporting. Prior to such mergers, you may have found older residents who loved their newspaper because it included news and events about all in the community. Now these papers are including less about the community they sell to and are including outside community news to fill in the gaps of the paper, along with real estate deals and bankruptcies. Parents of school children are perplexed because the newspaper may include the grade school news in one paper and not include the high school, which is found in some other newspaper. Therefore, they have no choice but to buy one or two, taking a pick of which is more important. But with this inaccuracy or logic of placing all things in one community under one paper and the community news of another in another paper, these syndicates have raised the price of their circulation so that it become unaffordable to most in this economy.
And I say, newspapers syndicates, if your content remained top notch as the content of some of the smaller community papers who are self-owned and operated, price would not be the issue. But if your paper does not contain the news your subscribers would expect about their community, then why would you assume they would pay for something they have no enjoyment in reading? This is pretty cut and dry. Yet, are there any editors or writers who have the ability and logic to place articles of the community in respective newspapers and not include outlying areas of no interest to the specific community receiving your circulation? Or have they been laid off or retired because you felt their salaries would reduce your cost?
There is nothing wrong about purchasing more than one paper, but make the paper interesting enough about community events and news so that someone will wish to purchase the paper. After all, if you enjoy something, you may not live without it no matter what the price. But if it is not something you totally enjoy, then it is the first thing that goes away in a penny pinching economy.
So what is left that is still good, coupons. But not all people have the need for coupons even if they can save money. Or, coupons are forgotten when one stops at the store. Yet the manufacturers are doing an excellent job in printing better coupons which may be used by the average consumer to save money on his or her groceries.
All newspapers make money on advertising, but when the economy is in the condition in which it is, the internet is used more frequently than placing ads in a newspaper. This is highly due to the fact that the advertising costs have increased overall while businesses are cutting back. Therefore, the internet has been the key, even in classified ads. Yet for the job seeker, the classified ads are minimal in the newspapers as compared to the internet. And the internet becomes very impersonal as there may be two-thousand applicants for every single job. Therefore if a resume is not the best of the best with a cover letter, you will not have an opportunity to have a meeting with anyone who will know that you have the correct temperament for the position available. And businesses still site the cost of advertising as the main reason they are no longer placing ads in the newspaper.
Let’s bring up delivery for a moment. Delivery is now undertaken by independent contractors who may deliver more than one newspaper to the area. One cannot imagine the number of complaints of these delivery people, stemming from throwing papers under a car, on a roof, in the snow, breaking trees and potted plants, and even non-deliveries to the appropriate places. Sometimes, all papers are left at the end of a block and not delivered at all. So, before a Newspaper considers hiring an independent contractor, consider that the independent contractor must deliver the papers in the manner required or the contract will be lost. If the independent contractor cannot handle the employees to deliver the papers as required, then either the employees should be dropped or the contractor.
There are so many subscribers who cite unbelievable information about their deliveries, some of which will never purchase a newspaper again. And, if the newspaper does not have an electronic edition, then, no purchase will be made. Yet, those who utilize computers on a daily basis do not wish to read their news on-line. They are frankly tired of looking into a screen and one cannot blame them.
As to newspapers being stolen, apartment buildings and gated communities need to operate as condominiums do. The delivery person, in most cases is allowed access to the buildings to deliver the papers inside the building and hang them on the door or at least place them in front of the door. There is still security because the person who delivers the papers must sign in and out. Or the delivery person is given a key for access into the building, which he or she is totally entrusted.
The Newspaper billing and circulation departments likewise need to provide customer service. When one goes to a retail store, one expects great service from the associate or otherwise complaints are made, which usually result in repercussions for the associate. Why is the Newspaper exempt from this same service? When a person contacts the Newspaper office to delay a paper for a week to a month, there should be no deliveries made during the time of suspension. Many have had burglaries because papers were delivered after they have suspended delivery. Needless to say, these people will never have another delivery made.
It is interesting as well that the billing departments keep sending statements for newspapers which have been cancelled or suspended or which have been delivered to the wrong premises. Those who receive collections on papers which have been cancelled, when they otherwise pay their bills, will never purchase your newspaper again. So consider having competent billing and circulation departments where records are maintained and iterated to your delivery personnel, whether independent or not.
As to maintaining a “Green” environment, I am all for it. But understand we continually utilize wood products for our businesses and our homes. Newspapers are recycled as well. But let’s look into this further. Does one realize that there will be no new tree growth if older or dead trees are not removed or cut down? The National Forest Service also provides permits so that those who utilize fireplace wood may remove certain marked dead trees.
Newspapers, if you do not look back historically to those things which sold your newspaper to begin with, then you will definitely end up as a dying breed to the dismay of those who truly enjoy their early morning newspaper with a cup of Joe.