In praise of newspapers

These are strange days — if not trying times — for those in the newspaper business, at least, for those of us who still have jobs.

The industry is in the midst of a transition period as it continues to serve a declining print readership and builds on a growing — slowly but surely — online readership base.

Personally, I am optimistic about the survival chances of newspapers, though I figure not all of them will make it through the transition period. And I think it is a given in the industry that it won’t rack up the sorts of licence-to-make-money profits it used to earn.

But the idea that the Internet is wiping out newspapers is erroneous. In fact, the Internet depends on them, and things like your google news feed would have a lot less to read if newspapers fade into extinction.

I don’t think I need to explain the importance of newspapers to your towns and cities, except to say that they hold politicians accountable more than anyone else does. They are the voice of the people, your voice . . .

Which is all to say that I urge you to support your local newspaper by taking out subscriptions, either online or print, or both. Indeed, enjoy both while you still have them because one day, print versions may not be available any more.

As for subscription prices, it disappoints me when I hear people complain about them, and try to cheat newspapers online by finding ways around pay walls. The subscription prices for online newspapers are ridiculously low, a fraction of what you would pay for a cup of coffee each day.

And given the service that newspapers provide to everyone by keeping politicians honest and outing the crooked ones — not to mention all the other ways newspapers serve the entire population — subscription prices are a hell of a good deal.

As for the use of ad-blocking software, well personally, I like to see advertisements. I like the fact that I can click on an ad and see more information and even order a product immediately. I’ve done it; I’ve bought stuff thanks to online advertising that I might not have known about.

So, consider this a soft pitch from someone who is not exactly tech savvy. Support your local newspaper, because it is your voice, too. Take part in reader discussions there, and give them input when they ask for it. Help to make your local newspaper a strong voice in your community.

— Jillian

5 thoughts on “In praise of newspapers

  1. I have read newspapers forever. In fact, there were times when i read three or four plus the weeklies like the long vanished National Observer. I remember morning and afternoon papers, and in the Boston area, the Hearst chain ran four or five editions.
    My father told me he learned how to read from what he called the “funny papers”, now known as the comics, serials of long gone heroes like Mandrake the Magician,Steve Canyon and Prince Valiant. Only “The Phantom” has survived.
    The internet news reads often are targeted. There aren’t the little snippets and pearls one and two column inches long of odd facts and fictions.
    Nothing like laying on the bed alone, or better with an intimate friend, passing sections of the Sunday editions back and forth between sips of coffee.

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    1. Interesting comment about the “little snippets and pearls.” I see no reason newspapers can’t do that sort of thing online, too. Don’t be afraid to suggest things like that to your local newspaper editor. Your input counts for more than you may realize.

      Cheers

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  2. Are you not speaking of “paper” rather than News? I for one do not see what all the kurfuffle is about print as whether on-line or not it is “print”. Why hasn’t anybody pointed out that the real issue is the writing-down of all the Capital equipment that has cost the Media conglomerates billions and that still has to be amortized off. Once that is accomplished than they won’t have to be bothered by huge buildings that have housed the enormous printing machinery, no? So all will remain the same. For that matter even more lucrative for mogols like Mr. Murdoch and his ilk. Advertising? of course that is a battle royale because Mr. Googla and Facebook won’t be giving that up without a fight

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  3. In the U. S. newspapers and the news media in general were always given special status. The first amendment of our Constitution clearly establishes freedom of the press. Along with that freedom there were unstated responsibilities to be truthful and politically neutral.

    During the last few decades the mainstream news media abandoned their impartiality and their journalistic ethics. Today they openly promote the liberal agenda of the democrat party while demonizing the majority of Americans who are much more conservative. In doing so the mainstream media have lost the value they formerly had as a government watchdog.

    This is probably less true of small town newspapers, but it seems that those people who tend to pursue journalism careers lean to the left politically and like to belittle all those who advocate conservative ideas. I suspect that much of the decline of newspapers is due to people having liberal political views shoved down their throats all the time. Unless they regain their impartiality the mainstream media doesn’t have a very bright future.

    I used to be a network news junkie, watching news on TV every day. I also read the local newspaper. That came to an end about 15 years ago. Today I don’t own a TV and I don’t read the newspaper.

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  4. Newspapers hire reporters who are necessary for the collection of news. Newspapers still tell the full story with all its detail. They also do investigative reporting required by a democratic society. TV news or the internet will never replace that function. Newspapers are local and the first step in the process that ends up with national and world news. Long live newspapers.
    However, having said all that, newspapers are shooting themselves in the foot. Only the free local gazettes paid for by advertising seem to be able to tell local stories without an editorial slant. Increasingly, ‘city of any size’, newspapers are owned by conglomerates. They have an editorial bent that is reflected in all their news stories.
    Evan independent newspapers like the Tampa Bay Times, started by an avowed communist, Nelson Poynter, is owned by a Trust that perpetuates his philosophy and injects it into the editorial page.
    We subscribe to it for the coupons. They are so desperate for subscribers we can usually get it for about $50/yr. And they are one of the more successful growing newspapers. Some people probably buy it for the want adds etc. I skim the headlines for stories of local interest. I get national news elsewhere.
    Sad, we subscribe because my wife likes the coupons.

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