Newspapers are, pretty much, dead.


Clay Shirky has some some truths: "Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide 'Click to buy' is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really."

The other significant point is that journalists are being kept deliberately in the dark about the fortunes of their employers. When asked to estimate their own circulation, they overestimate it by an order of magnitude. It's the sharp between the newsroom and the business side: "

It’s tempting to try to find a moral dimension to newspapers’ collapse, but there isn’t one. All that’s happened is advertisers are leaving, classifieds first, inserts last. Business is business; the advertisers never had a stake in keeping the newsroom open in the first place. This disconnection between the business side and the news side was celebrated as a benefit, right up to the moment it became an industry-wide point of failure.

Last Call [Clay Shirky/Medium]

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  1. It is more direct to say that the Internet killed newspapers.

    I can see the argument that we are losing something of value by removing the editorial process from the news feed, forcing people to sift through information on their own, but it's also true that newspapers have been doing a pretty bad job of that and it's not an impossible service to provide on the web.

    The graph in the article might as well be labeled "Effect of a disruptive technology on an established business."

  2. I suspect that both helped; but Craigslist struck the more architecturally brutal blow.

    Unless newspapers actually used to be sustained by subscribers, and all those ads were just to pad the margins, Craigslist and its ilk can largely gut the newspaper and watch it bleed out without ever doing something newspaper-like.

    Online news sources, by contrast, tend to be more convenient(and, to a debatable but probably nonzero degree, probably coast a bit on the activity of traditional news organizations); but they are in the business of providing a similar product through different channels.

    If news gathering cannot survive without a (more or less artificial) connection to advertising and transaction handling, which are clearly handled better by other entities, it's absolutely dead.

    If news distribution is something that people don't want to do on paper, and the existing outfits can't change, there is at least theoretical room for somebody to build on the ashes.

  3. Ad revenue is dead. Newspapers themselves are pretty cheap to print and distribute, especially given the increases in productivity over the last twenty years. If they would just shitcan the idea that ad revenue is "free money", they might be able to rebuild the model by getting rid of ads altogether. Think of all the savings from getting rid of the overblown, mediocre egos of the ad-marketing department.

  4. I'm a 27 year old male, considering getting a daily subscription to a newspaper for the first time.

    Something struck me the other day, and triggered for me again with the first sentence of this post. Everyone seems to have assumed that getting real time, sharable news is a good thing. I've grown to find the cycle of checking the news ever 15 minutes to be extremely habitual, addictive and disruptive to my daily life.

    I think I actually would like to get my news once a day in a containable, isolated format. Is it really such a big deal that the news is from yesterday? Do I have to know what happened RIGHT THIS INSTANT?

  5. The fact that the bottom of the chart is at 10,000 instead of zero doesn't help. It's bleak, but this chart exaggerates the situation.

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