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Monday, February 23, 2009

American newspapers struggling to survive

I've long contended that the most accurate perception of what is going on with the United States comes from looking at it from afar. So it is that I find it hard to disagree with what Rupert Cornwell of The New Zealand Herald has written about the newspaper industry and institution in this country. The age of printed media's supremacy has come to an end, Cornwell declares.

It is very difficult to argue with him. In my own neck of the woods, Media General is furloughing employees for ten days of unpaid leave in an effort to cut costs. It's now being whispered that my hometown's The Reidsville Review may not survive past the year. Meanwhile, there is evidence that The New York Times may finally crash and burn come later this spring. Fully a third of American newspapers might be bankrupt come summer, according to the article in The New Zealand Herald.

Well, can't say we didn't see this coming. Between the general state of the economy and how a considerable portion of the population gets its news from online, it was only a matter of time before traditional newspapers started feeling the blows.

But I'm of the mind that this is really just a period of "realignment" for the newspaper industry. Newspapers won't completely go away, but if they are going to survive they must figure out ways to adapt to the new order of things that is fast arising. I think that also means that the bigger outfits - like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and perhaps even regional papers like our own The News & Record - are going to have to scale back, while the smaller community-oriented outfits are going to continue to thrive.


Anonymous said...

As a member of the printing community, I definitely agree that the printed medium is a thing of the past. For the last five years, I worked in magazine printing as my father has for nearly twenty and rising paper costs, declining sales and the rise of digi-mags and online news outlets has all but killed the printing industry.

We were employed by the largest printing company in the world until these last couple weeks as our department was completely phased-out while other departments received their own cut-lists. Now, a lot of these folks are being forced to seek work outside of their industrial experience (some with 30+ years) due to a lack of demand for their skills.

But, according to the resident hatchet-man that gave us our papers, you'll never hear about that in the news -- printed or otherwise.