Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hearst Threat to Close Chronicle Underscores ‘Terrible’ Climate

As reported here, Hearst Co.’s plan to close or sell its San Francisco Chronicle newspaper unless it can cut more jobs signals that the industry’s advertising sales may be headed to new lows.

The publisher, already trying to sell its Seattle Post-Intelligencer, yesterday said it would seek voluntary buyouts for a “significant” number of its 1,500 employees after it lost $50 million last year. The announcement follows two newspaper owners filing for bankruptcy protection since Feb. 21.

The rest of the article goes on to list other papers that are also in financial trouble, citing that the main reason for that is the decline in print advertising revenue, but they don't go into the reason why the print ad revenue is declining. Well, let me tell you why. It's quite simple, really.

With only a few exceptions (the SF Examiner being one mentioned in the article), all print media charge money for their product. Several years ago, I paid for my news in print format every day on my way to work. Then two things kind of jumped up and slapped me upside the head. The first was that it was costing me money! I mean, actual, real coin to get this product. OK, at the time, it was only $2.50 a week, but still, that was actual money out of my pocket that could be better spent elsewhere. The other realization was, I had to do something with the left over product once I was finished with it. I don't own any birds, so I couldn't line the bottom of cages with it, nor am I a fishmonger, so I couldn't use it to wrap my wares with it, so ... what to do with it? I'm kidding, of course. I recycled it, as should have been done. So, people all over came to the same realization - why pay for this, when the money spent on this could be spent on something more important, like an extra latte a week, or something else equally critical to ones happiness and well being. And that's not all - most print media also have web sites (loaded with ads galore!) that replicate on line what they publish on paper, and other than the ISP access charges that people pay to gain access to the internet, most news on the web is free. Why pay for something you can get for free, and that you don't have to dispose of later (and have to pay for)? The MSM have basically cut their own throats with just this first example.

The next thing is the rise of what the MSM refers to as "alternative media", aka blogs, and "citizen journalism". Of course, the elites in the MSM look down their noses at "citizen journalists", aka bloggers, since those people didn't go to journalism school like they did, so how could they possibly be taken seriously? Which leads me to my next point.

Most (but certainly not all of course - there are wacko's out there of every stripe who just want somewhere to push their latest conspiracy theory or ideology) bloggers do their very best to post well researched articles and tell the truth, unlike the vast majority of "journalists" in the MSM. Most bloggers know that if they don't "get it right", their failing will be pointed out to them quite quickly, and usually in unflattering terms, and so are held accountable for what they post. However, most "journalists" in the MSM have no real checks to what they write, and as a result have, by and large, become too lazy to do even the most simple of on line searches to verify what they are going to publish (ever heard of Google you guys?).

The last thing is that in most cases, those who write for the print media have taken to inserting "editorial opinion" in their articles, rather than simply reporting events as they happen, spinning the event they are covering to fit their own biases. Whether you are a liberal or a conservative, most people reject whatever bias you inject into your articles, tiring of the whole "spin machine" climate that this type of editorializing has engendered.

So, to recap -

Why pay for something you can get for free on line?
Why wade through non-truths and sloppy, lazy writing when you can get the truth from blogs?
Why put up with someone's opinion when you are seeking information?

Unless and until the elites in the MSM face up to these three main factors, their industry will continue to decline until they become the next historical footnote in a long line of past failures.

H/T Ace

Personal update

Been a while since I've posted anything here, and for that I guess I should apologize to those of you who do check here now and then on a regular basis, for wasting your time. I plan on rectifying that (see below), and am thankful for your continued "patronage".

All I can say is that for the past several months, I've been putting in some hard hours at work, making it virtually impossible for me to do much more than eat, sleep, get up in the morning and do it all over again.

Well, thanks to the economic crisis enabled by the likes of Mssrs. Frank, Dodd, Schumer, Rangel et al., and their "let it roll for a little while longer" policies towards the various failed and/or failing financial institutions that became so entangled in the sub-prime mortgage mess, I now have plenty of time to get back to posting on a more regular basis, seeing as how I got laid off from my job this past Friday. Oh, and the "porkulus" bill isn't going to get it back for me any time soon, either! So thanks Barney, Chris, Chuck and Charles, et al. You should be proud of yourselves.