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Newspapers and an Analogy

Over the last couple of weeks we have seen what we all knew was coming: lots of newspapers making the final decision to cease publication. There are lots of reasons for this, including things like content that doesn’t appeal to readers, the convenience of the internet, investigative journalism that has been made subservient of the desires of marketing and sales departments, and more.

My personal feeling is that the most important reason is simply that for the most part words printed on cheap paper with cheap ink is an archaic method of getting information to the masses. It is slow, it is expensive, and frankly, it’s messy and wasteful.

I think newspapers and even the television and magazine industries need to look at themselves as current day analogs to Vaudeville shows. Once a new method for getting their content to the masses became popular, the producers had to either adapt, retire, or go bankrupt. Many of the big names in Vaudeville became big names in the early days of cinema, radio, and television. That can still happen for today’s news media, but only once they stop fighting the change and learn to adapt themselves to the times.


  1. Sirrus

    Very true. With the ready availability of internet and news channels, anyone can check what’s happening around the world, anytime. The news channels have already adapted to the fact that people like to get their news either before going to work, or after returning from it, and therefore do a flash overview of the headlines at these times. Meanwhile, the internet just keeps adding stories as they happen.

    The news channels learn too – they set up their websites to complement their television performance, oftentimes integrating a blog into the context of a particular “show”, intertwining the two so that the commentators and spectators have a means of communication. This is much more interesting to the audience, compared to regular columns in the newspapers.

    But I wouldn’t worry about the papers themselves. People still like to read the text under different angles, and with a computer screen, you can only get so much of them. Plus, there’s the psychological side to it, the fact that you get to hold the information in your hand. It’s the same with books, really.

    But I wouldn’t worry about the newspapers. They’ll adapt, they’re already doing it, they just don’t have a reason to move fully to the internet when there are e-book readers and electronic paper just on the horizon.

    As always, a delightful post, Matthew.

  2. Well, I think they can adapt to something like the version of newspapers as existed in the RPG Cyberpunk 2020 or Minority Report, news as they happen.

    But I certainly don’t like the ‘blog’ concept, not because of the idea, but because of the presentation, I don’t like all the information in one column in the middle of the page like the blogs force you to read (even mine or this).

    PS:But, although, I like the design of this blog in particular, it reads like a paper piece 😉

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