Posted by: nickgerlich | October 21, 2007

News Not Fit To Print?

Call me an old timer, but I still enjoy reading thew newspaper. The paper kind. With ink that often smudges your fingertips. And draws you in with a pen (boldly, of course) to complete the crossword puzzle and Sudoku.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the country simply does not see it that way.

NewspaperWhile current year statistics are not yet available, the news from 2006 was hardly fit to print. Both Sunday and daily circulation were down significantly, reflecting a continued death spiral for this tradition-laden bastion of the fourth estate. Daily circulation is at about 54 million, with Sunday about 1 million higher.

Hey, I guess if you’re only going to read the paper once a week, make it Sunday when they print the color Comics.

Of perhaps even greater interest, though, is that the average age of a newspaper reader is 55, while the average online newspaper reader is 42…and increased by five from 2000 to 2005. I am not surprised about the 55ers being the mainstay of the print edition, but I am surprised about the online readers becoming decidely middle aged.

The online version of the daily paper was intended primarily for those in the 25-34 bracket, but they are simply not being attracted by either paper or online versions.

Where, then, are younger adults receiving their news? If they get any at all, it will either be from cable news providers, or online sites like Digg, Reddit, and Netscape.

And if you have been to any of those three sites, you already know they are really just popularity contests for news items, pure Web 2.0 applications that allow users to interact and share their news “favorites” with the world.

Which would be kind of like being able to email or Phone CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to tell them what you thought they should put on TV tonight.

While I do not fashion myself a crusty old curmudgeon, I see a huge paradigm shift at play here. While newspapers in the major cities probably will not go out of business in the foreseeable future, times will be tougher for them. They will likely continue to push resources into their online version, hoping that younger people will eventually become avid users (all for free, of course).

I cut my teeth on newspapers, honing my reading skills at an early age. Although I will not stand in the way of change, I do hope that emerging generations find some source for reading and news acquisition.

Maybe all that ink on my fingertips wasn’t good for my skin anyway.

Dr “Print’s Charming” Gerlich

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