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Are Newspapers Dying? (or just falling asleep) Print E-mail
by Bill DeOre    Thu, Oct 27, 2005, 03:34 PM

newspapers.jpgSour grapes aside, it's extremely difficult to make a precise judgement as to the future of newspapers from my perspective. My perspective being an ex 34 year employee of the local daily. Released from said institution 1 year ago today.

Looks to me like everyone wants to bandy terms around like journalistic standards, circulation, ad sales, attracting younger readers etc., etc. as a sort of cause and effect scenario to define the problems surrounding the industry. I see it as more of an evolution. People are gravitating away from newspapers for the same reason that we're not rubbing sticks together to make fire. In case you haven't noticed, the ante has been upped a thousandfold where news gathering and entertainment (journaltainment?) are concerned.

I've always conceded that there's a need for some form of newspaper. Something portable and readily available to act as a conduit with the community for local news, human interest and the like. It's pretty evident, however, that newspapers share the same flawed approach that says the only answer is to attract younger readers at all costs. i.e. The "NEW" Dallas Morning News.

Newspapers have seen fit to abandon their core readership to entice the younger reader. Problem is, when you're already bogged down with dwindling circulation, huge ever-escalating production costs (yes, that tree killing thing too) and Wall Street demands, needing and getting that younger reader becomes an iffy proposition...One that quite frankly, is not playing out well.

In one of his rare audiences with our editorial board some years back, Robert Decherd expressed his desire to see the paper take a more "pragmatic" approach in its direction. (I assume editorial direction) Going from a fairly conservative newspaper of the past to, well, whatever it is today, was and is being accomplished by design.

Give everyone what they need: liberal, conservative, black, white, brown, rich, poor, young, old...whatever it takes to sell newspapers. Be edgy but don't anger. Be opinionated but don't be preachy. But, most of all, get rid of the old to make way for the "NEW".

Whew! If only the formula were that easy. It may come right down to the fact that evolution is taking it's natural toll. How do you reinvent the wheel when the axle is broken?... Maybe the model is working exactly as it was designed to... Look up pragmatic.

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