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Print Newspapers Are Dead - Get The Shovels Print E-mail
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Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 21:01

MADERA - The printed newspaper is dead. When the Internet exploded into everyone's homes with high speed connections, the diagnoses was given and it didn't look very good for traditional newspapers. Now that the news is as close as your computer, television, smart-phone or tablet, who needs ever purchase a print newspaper again?

I once had a conversation with Madera Tribune publisher Chuck Doud. We discussed the future of print newspapers. Chuck bleeds news ink and of course defended the product he does a great job of turning out. I on the other hand had made a simple statement that seems to be very true today, "Printed newspapers will only survive until someone invents a handheld device which lets you get the entire Internet in the bathroom."

That device will never be the smart phone. Who has ever tried to read a 5000 word article from the NewYorkTimes.com on a smart phone? But the smart phone did lead to it's invention. The device is, of course, the tablet. Whether it be an $800 IPad or a $100 Android, the tablet is quickly becoming the device of choice for news and entertainment.

I have an app on my tablet that lets me read nearly every traditional newspaper from Bakersfield to Sacramento. Actually world-wide but I have limited my interest to just the Central Valley and thrown in the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times for national and international content.

My girlfriend doesn't have cable TV. Amazingly though I can plug my tablet into her HDMI port and all the cable programming I have at home follows me to her house. Now I don't miss a baseball game or a show. I even bring my on-demand programming with me.

Every Sunday my tablet is my Bible. For the same reason I enjoy reading the news on my tablet, I enjoy reading my Bible on my tablet; I can control the font size. I have found that the older I get, the worse my eye sight gets. I can buy a large print Bible, but they don't seem to make a large print newspaper.

There is very little I can't do with my tablet that I could do with a traditional print newspaper. Ok I can make a very big paper airplane, wrap fish or line a bird cage with a traditional print newspaper. Though depending on which paper I use my bird sometimes looks at me and says, "That would be redundant."

Newspapers brought this death on themselves. Fifteen years ago they couldn't wait to get online and what did they do? They gave away their product for free. Now when they want to charge for it, they've found that there are other outlets, who have chosen a different business model, where the reader can still get what he wants. FREE NEWS.

In the case of the small town papers, they have laid off so many people that now over half the newspaper is either Associated Press or some other wire stories. Recently a local small town paper laid off it's sportswriter. He was doing a local sports opinion story every day. Now they are running an AP sports opinion piece.

This was probably the most popular writer this local paper had. He's the guy putting the readers kids in the paper ever day with high school and youth sports. The paper is going to learn the hard lesson that "content drives circulation".

The heart of the small town paper is local news. Parents want to see their kids, local service clubs want publicity for their events and old people want to make sure they aren't listed in the obituaries.

There are very few other reasons that communities support their local papers. When the companies that own these papers start reducing their staff to the point where they can't cover "Billy's" Little League game, subscriptions fall off and newspapers close.

Has anyone notice how much smaller in physical size the front page of the Fresno Bee is now and also how fewer pages and sections are in the paper? Put the Bee up to the Tribune and notice the size difference. Smaller paper size, less printing, less cost. Also less news, less advertising, less impressive.

This is something that you don't have to worry about when you deliver the news on the Internet. Like I have said for a long time, size does matter. On the Internet you have no limitations. Your story can go on and on, you can run as many photos as your readers wants to see, you can run video on the webpage. There is very little you can not do.

Also the over-head is a lot cheaper, so the ad space can be a lot cheaper. Internet advertising goes from 10 cents on the dollar compared to newspaper advertising and reach an unlimited market. With a newspaper you are limited to the amount of papers they print and distribute in a set geographic area. The Internet is everywhere.

Is it no wonder that large papers are failing all over the world? Can our local papers survive? I'll make a prediction that at least one local newspaper within a 75 mile radius of Madera closes before December of next year. I'll bet that another is already having financial struggles and difficulties making payroll, laying off most of their full time staff.

This could all be avoided if newspapers would just change their business model but this will never happen. The larger newspapers have to deal with unions and the small town newspapers are afraid of technology. That is a shame because there is so much talent that has been laid off, if they would only come together they could rise up from the ashes of print and be a power house in the valley on the Internet.

I have a lot of friends in the print news business and I've told each of them that some day they will be their own product. The sports writer that is laid off today at a local newspaper, could tomorrow be the owner of the next local sports news website. The news anchor at the local television station today, could tomorrow develop his own show on You Tube.

The casket hasn't been closed and there is still time to perform CPR and rescue these newspapers from the grave. It will take doing things a little different. It will take finding multiple revenue streams for the products they sell. I've been doing it for fifteen years. I'm not getting rich but I've also been running the show by myself. Could you image what Big Valley News would be with a staff the size of the Madera Tribune?

I can....

 

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