Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Newspapers' Problem: No Readers

No, literally--nobody reads anymore. The Winning McCain thinks so, anyway.

...Conservatives love to claim that liberal bias explains the decline of newspaper circulation and ad revenue. Technophiles say that dead-tree Old Media is losing circulation because readers are going to the Web.

Whatever the merits of these explanations, they are not sufficient to account fully for the loss of readership. I have often argued, in response, that what we are actually seeing is a decline of reading, period. Pay attention the next time you're on an airplane. Notice how relatively few of your fellow passengers -- especially the younger ones -- pass their time reading a newspaper, magazine or book. Rather, they're watching the in-flight movie or listening to their IPods. People are reading less than they once did, a tendency especially pronounced among the young. As a result, there is less demand for the written word.

Modestly, I'll mention that I thought of that a long time ago--but kept it to myself, more or less, although P-Mac might recall such a conversation.

More proof? Sure:

Evidence for my explanation can be seen in the recent news that several major magazine publishers are slashing their Web staffs. Conde Nast, for instance, let go 25 of their 30 online writers, while Fortune magazine cut a half-dozen Internet staffers. This computes neither with the "liberal bias"

Yup. Kids don't read, people. (Of course, to me, a "kid" is anyone under 35...)


Anonymous said...

*This* "kid" reads! I almost always have one newspaper (WSJ or something else good), one magazine (typically Der Spiegel), and a book or two for my plane rides. And, I typically get through the paper and the magazine!

Poor print media.

Jeff Miller said...

Don't know if people are reading less in general. Many though are shifting to the web. PC Mag just stopped their print edition to go web only. Newspapers will certainly lose more an more market share to the web. Though WSJ has managed to maintain themselves as a paper.

I can't think of any reason to get my news from a newspaper anymore.