Who Destroyed Print Media?

This blogger keeps making important points about the destruction of print journalism. We have all accepted the idea that the Internet is to blame for newspaper closures, but in reality, the collapse of print media is a result of egregious and stupid mismanagement. And the irresponsible, lazy-ass, ignorant journalists did all they could to hasten the demise of their own print media. 

Read at the link about the senseless destruction of New Orleans Times-Picayune.

5 thoughts on “Who Destroyed Print Media?”

  1. There are always little anecdotes and micro examples againt the main argument. But pretty much impossible to deny that the internet did kill the newspapers.

    (Guess it won’t show in your comments). Ad revenue was $60 billion in 1990 for newspapers, now is at $20 billion and will level out between $5-10 billion in another decade. Internet and mobile ad revenue (all which didn’t exist obviously in 1990) is around $50 -60 billion this year .


    obviously i am sure there are examples of the horse and buggy industry making mistakes in the 1910’s and 1920’s that “hastened” their decline, but the fundamental technology shift then (cars) like now (“the internet / mobile”) is pretty much the only thing that matters in the long-run.


  2. Business executives are astonishingly risk averse, and very willing to follow other executives over a cliff than to think independently. If “everyone else” is doing something, it’s got to be the right thing to do.

    Online advertising is cheap, in part because no one reads it. That’s why regional papers that have gone online-only are struggling. That’s also why print papers are still around and direct mail is having a resurgence. Consumers have skills at tuning out noise, and most online advertising is just that. Eye -tracking has shown how consumers can focus on the center of a screen and ignore ads placed around the edges.

    If you have a merchant you like and then send you something online, you’ll look at it. You have a relationship with that merchant. For everyone else, there’s a delete key or spam folder.

    In my case, I’m online over 10 hours a day for work and check my email accounts multiple times per day. I look at email from Wegmans, Home Depot, ebay and Amazon. Everything else (in the hundreds) is trashed without reading. I’ve run several google searches today. Google inserts paid ads at the beginning of its search results and I’ve learned to jump over those to focus on what I want. I don’t think I am in any way special in doing that. I have no awareness of any Google ads to which I might have been exposed today. (The probit models that advertisers try to use to show impact on consumer behavior are so flimsy and fragile as to be absurd.)

    Murdock may be evil but he’s also intelligent. When he bought the Wall Street Journal, he enhanced the online features but did not close the print edition. Nor did he cut the quality of the product. And he’s making money. He’s done the same thing with the Trentonian and other smaller market papers that he acquired.

    You can produce the advertising chart that Matt displayed simply by removing places for advertisers to place ads. In fairness, it took the ad community a fair amount of time to catch onto the mythology of online ads. Many still haven’t.

    The people with deep pockets and guts, who saw the fad for what it was and could wait it out, are making money. The New Orleans paper failed, but I agree, Clarissa, with your initial point, the failure was self-inflicted.


  3. It’s true that the Internet was fearful competition for the newspaper industry. In particular the Internet took away The good old classified ads selling real estate used cars and announcing job openings. However, I’m sure that newspapers could have survived the Internet challenge as well or better than they survived the television news challenge. Too many reporters and editors refused to adapt and change. Too many owners and publishers refused to stand and fight in the new environment. Declining advertising revenues frightened owners and executives so much that they choose to cut news coverage, and then to close the papers. With a little bit better leadership, and a little more cooperation from the newsroom and the composing room, newspapers could have survived, if they were willing to except a reasonable level of profit.


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