I have been a coffee and newspaper kind of gal since I was 11 and nope, I am not kidding. I grew up in a family where the first stop in the morning was a quick jaunt to grab the newspaper and to actually read it. I grew up in a newspaper kind of town, with not one but two dailies, The Chicago Tribune and The Sun-Times. Monday-Friday, I preferred the Sun-Times, primarily because it was an easier paper to read while commuting but Sundays were reserved for The Chicago Tribune.
My love of newspapers is so serious that when I travel, I always like to check out the local papers of wherever I find myself, a local newspaper can tell you so much about a place, even down to the design. In fact when I moved to Maine, the state of local newspapers here saddened me, to be frank, most were pathetic. Granted they are improving but it’s a slow process.
Sadly not everyone shares my love of newspapers; in fact a fair share of the populace would be happy to see daily newspapers go the way of the rotary phone. In this digital age, newspapers are no longer money makers as advertisers can find newer and better and often cheaper ways to advertise. The truth is the actual charge we pay for the paper never covered the cost of producing the paper; it was always about the ads. Problem is advertisers are no longer putting their shekels into papers and publishers are looking to deal with that.
It seems down in New Orleans, the daily paper of record The Times Picayune has decided to cease daily publishing instead going to a hybrid approach, only publishing a physical paper on days that advertisers like to place ads. In fact the company that owns The Times Picayune as well as several other papers in Alabama decided to slash damn near 600 jobs and those that are left standing on the boat even Pulitzer Prize winners will have new jobs that sound like they will be less focused on oh…writing and more on profitability for the company.
Now I know for people who read blogs like the one you are reading, it’s easy to shrug and say oh well…it’s a brave new digital world. Problem is the brave new digital world doesn’t exist for all of us. In fact father of BGIM does not own a smartphone, only uses a computer at his day job and actually still buys the daily newspaper. The reality is there are millions of people like my Pops, who either lack the means to read newspapers online or the desire…I know, crazy thing!
When we decide who is worthy of staying connected to world happenings we are basically saying quite a lot of people don’t matter. As cellular companies look for new ways to keep us enslaved to our data packages, we will grumble and kvetch but in the end, we are going to keep access to information flowing. But for millions of Americans, they can’t afford to participate in this digital landscape, as it is even seeking work is hard for this segment of the population, but now we are saying they aren’t worthy of daily news.
Make no mistake I suspect within 5 years or so, more and more newspapers will follow the Times Picayune lead and do away with daily papers instead opting for the hybrid model. Yet when we laugh and joke about daily papers being relics and that if they can’t money they should cease to exist what are we really saying? That some of us are worthy and others are not? I mean truth be told, for all the hype about Facebook, it doesn’t exactly make money yet the illusion that it can be more than what it is propelled people to invest in this wave of the future. Thus far, it’s looking shaky.
While money is this driver in this world we live in, at a certain point we need to decide what kind of world we really want to be and clearly in this brave new digital world, only some of us matter. The rest? Well, they can sit on the sidelines further disenfranchised but hey? Who cares?