How much longer will newspapers survive?


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Newspapers are dying

I love reading newspapers.  But let’s be honest – they feature old news.  We can get news now not only from television and radio but also from our computers and even our cell phones.  And the newspapers can’t keep up.

Even newspaper blogs have a hard time keeping up with other blogs.  The Orange County Register’s political blog, Total Buzz, isn’t even in the current Top 20 list of California political blogs, that is published weekly by BNN.  And their opinion blog, Orange Punch, is ranked #12 at the moment.  This blog and the other two big O.C. political blogs, are all ranked higher than both of the O.C. Register’s blogs.  And we always are.

Now the two local newspapers in town are racing to fire their workers.  “The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday announced plans to cut 250 positions across the company, including 150 positions in editorial, in a new effort to bring expenses into line with declining revenue. In a further cost-cutting step, the newspaper will reduce the number of pages it publishes each week by 15%,” according to the L.A. Times.

And “Facing steep declines in profit, the Orange County Register is laying off staff, reducing the amount of news in the paper and taking other steps to cut costs.  Starting Thursday and continuing this week, staffers have been tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave. Management at the Register declined to comment Monday. Insiders estimated the number of layoffs would be 20 to 35. A dozen had already been laid off by Monday, including longtime reporters and a part-time artist,” according to the L.A. Times.

How is firing reporters and reducing the news contents in the O.C. Register and the L.A. Times going to improve these newspapers?  It won’t – they will get worse now.  And the announcements of more layoffs will likely prod even more readers to cancel their subscriptions.  After all, you can read both newspapers online for free.

If there is any hope for the newspapers it lies in the Internet, but they still haven’t quite figured out how to turn those impressions into dollars.  And advertisers have moved on in many cases, sinking their ad dollars into other marketing opportunities.

The real problem for newspapers is that they lost most of their classified advertising in the last few years to monster.com, ebay.com, craigslist.org and all those online personals and dating websites.  And those classified ads were the most profitable ads that the newspapers published.

There is no going back for either the O.C. Register or the L.A. Times.  They are looking into the abyss.  I really can’t see how they are going to pull out of this mess, particularly with our economy mired in the Bush Depression.

Here’s a thought – why don’t the O.C. Register and the L.A. Times charge us for reading their news online?  They could offer the first paragraph of each story for free, then you would have to log in as a subscriber to read the rest.  Or they could even charge by the story!  And maybe they could offer a deal where you agree to read an ad or view an ad video before you read the story – and then you may read the story for free.

We need our local newspapers.  But now we are going to have to start worrying about what we will do when they are gone.  I don’t trust the management at either the L.A. Times or the O.C. Register to solve this mess.  They failed to see any of this coming and they acted too late to save themselves.  I think they are doomed.  In which case I’m glad I established the Orange Juice almost five years ago.  I think it would be quite difficult to launch a new political blog in this environment.

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About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.