Sunday, February 26, 2012

How Fast Newspapers Are Falling

Last week, I wrote about the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper I worked with for over a decade, publishing an editorial (based on the Fakegate documents, no less) comparing people who don't believe in catastrophic global warming to Hitler. I went on to write:


Every time I think the pro-global warming forces cannot go any lower, I’m disappointed. For fear of repeating myself, Are these the behaviors of people who are confident in the accuracy of their position? To me, this increasingly outrageous behavior smacks of desperation. 


For a decade, WeatherData, Inc. (the company I founded in 1981) provided the weather forecasts and storm coverage to the Times. I really enjoyed working with them and met a number of great journalists. To see the Times fall this far is terribly sad. The Times’ circulation is down, way down. The most recent figures I could find (2010) state:


Circulation at the Los Angeles Times fell 14.7% to 616,606 on weekdays and 7.6% to 941,914 on Sundays.


When we worked with them, their weekday circulation was close to a million!


The next time a newspaper executive complains about dropping readership and increased corporate losses, suggest they look in a mirror. I think most people, regardless of political orientation, are fed up with the “Hitler” accusation. 


With a hat-tip to Instapundit, I came across these figures showing how the bottom is falling out of the newspaper industry's revenue:



I love newspapers. I was business manager of our high school newspaper when I went to Rockhurst (and, if we didn't raise enough money, there was no newspaper). I worked with newspapers at WeatherData for more than twenty years! Today, I still subscribe to two daily newspapers, The Wichita Eagle and The Wall Street Journal. 


But, as long as newspapers act as shills for political causes (see Hitler above) rather than honestly reporting news, they are going to continue their collapse. If that occurs, America will be far worse for their loss.  

4 comments:

  1. Newspapers are being put out of business by the combination of two forces:
    1. Their business model is stuck in the 1950s.
    2. We consume content differently.

    They have no alternative but to focus on local news as national and international news is now a non value-add commodity. Whether or not they can evolve to face that reality and find a way to stay relevant and profitable remains to be seen. They have to overcome factor #1 to do that I'm afraid.

    I think content providers such as WSJ, The Economist, and Barron's have figured it out - offer a few free articles and podcasts, but you have to pay to get the rest of the content. Of course, their content is valuable to me. :)

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  2. Brian,

    What you say is true but the number one issue is the collapse of their readership. Bad journalism is no more palatable on an iPad than it is on paper. There is far too much bad journalism today.

    Mike

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  3. Another reason newspaper advertising revenues plunged in the early 2000's was the rise of Craigslist, eBay and other online forums that greatly reduced the market for classified ads. Most people (including myself) no longer turn to the classified ads to buy or sell used cars, furniture, etc. or to find apartments for rent, or to look for job openings.

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  4. True, Elaine..no question. But, keep in mind that the newspapers with their original content could have done all of this and they refused to do so (I was in those meetings when WeatherData was the leading provider of weather pages the U.S.'s major newspapers).

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