Print Journalism Doomed?

The CEO of the New York Times publication, Mark Thompson, had quite a pronouncement to make: “Print journalism has maybe another 10 years”.

I have a need for the tactile sensation of holding a piece of paper with words on it in order to feel as though I am reading the news.  I will often highlight information on my computer screen and print it for later consumption during which I satisfy my apparent need for the tactile sensation to accompany my reading.

I am apparently an information gathering dinosaur whose species is doomed since that is not as economical for publishers as is the use of electronic transmission of the same news…with even the use of electronic clips rather than printed pictures to help convey more to the experience.  In some cases, quotes are in audio/video form rather than simply having punctuation demarcations separating them out as actual statements made.  Who’d have thought?

The writing has been on the wall, no pun intended, for some time.  I am simply one of those who grew up holding a piece of paper that got my fingers dirty from which I read the words that made sentences that gave me information.  The generation that contains my children has less and less reliance on the print media for almost everything.  The generation containing my grandchildren is already done with having to hold something other than a tablet in their hands while gathering and consuming information.  The idea of going to a library for books that contain information is more and more foreign to them.  Why would anyone do that when they can simply pull it up on their tablet and have all that extra time remaining vs. traveling physically to and from a library or a bookstore.  I still have a voracious book appetite!

I initially thought that there might be some hope for those of us who have the tactile neediness to accompany information gathering that I seem to have.  I am becoming, rapidly becoming, aware that I am truly in the “older generation”.

At the same time, I must say that I see the demise in the form of the newspapers I used to find so useful that now tend to make me dig more deeply using my laptop for which I seem to pay more at every renewal.  I am very close to telling the Journal Sentinel Company, now owned by a company (Gannett) buying up newspapers at ‘fire sale’ prices, to stuff their terribly high subscription prices for a paper that gets smaller and smaller as their prices get higher and higher.  The last vestige is that of having the Sunday paper delivered in hard copy form…and that is getting closer and closer to becoming “a thing of the past” in my household given ever-increasing subscription rates for ever-decreasing page counts, the substance of which is more and more print advertising which also seems to be diminishing in importance.

Adding to the speed of its demise is the fact that the staffing levels of newsPAPERS have diminished to the point that human-initiated & delivered service is apparently no longer available.  I tried to make contact with a human yesterday at the Milwaukee news organization that was recently acquired by Gannett, and the wait times quoted by the computer-generated voice were astronomical…hours instead of minutes for a human to find time to talk with me.  I never did get to talk with anyone.

So, their product is dying because rates are ever-increasing, so staffing is reduced to provide some modicum of profit, so service continues to decline so rates go up to offset the lost subscription dollars which simply increases the speed with which this trend is occurring.  You’d think someone would see that correlation.

If I am not terribly mistaken, this sounds to me like the very definition of a “death spiral” and I have to wonder why Gannett is so anxious to buy more of these dinosaurs so they can reduce the level of service available more rapidly so the trend line steepens to the depths of despair.

I guess the good news in all this is two-fold:  I will not have ink-print on my fingers nearly so much as I do now, and…I’ve forgotten the other piece of good news.  Think I’ll go the Fox News and stayed tuned all day long.  It is far-less-expensive and I don’t have to avoid smearing my blackened fingers on everything around me.

Print journalism goes the way of the dinosaurs and I lament that…but I will get used to it since there is little choice.

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