Friday, January 2, 2009

Next up for bailout bucks . . . the newspapers

I'm not surprised anymore by anyone lining up to sign on the government doll.  Today, it's Connecticut's local newspapers taking their turn.  (Link to story here.)

And why shouldn't government bail out the media?  After all, the media helped to put all those government officials in office, didn't they?  Isn't it simply time to pay off that debt?

Of course, the newspapers act in the common good too, and can't be allowed to fail.  Without them, who would provide a venue for fair reporting and public debate.  Reporters are society's watchdogs, our unbiased eyes and ears keeping an eye on power.  Without them, we would be lost.

No need to fret either over the government's bailout money coming with stings attached and influencing a newspaper's coverage either.  Members of the media certainly have the highest integrity and could not be influenced.


If newspapers can't stay in business these days, they need to take a hard look at their business models and come to grips with modern technology.  It is an internet world.  And papers' monopoly on information has been broken.  If a newspaper (or any other business) can't give its customers something that they can't get elsewhere - and at a price that folks are willing to pay - then they deserve to go under.

Here are my suggestions.  Stop relying on the Associated Press to fill your pages.  We can get AP stories (and syndicated features) anywhere on the net.  Why should we pay to read the same thing in your pages?  Get some real, unique, news (and other) content that we'll want to shell out $ to read.  And feature that content ONLY in the print version of your paper.  If you put it on-line, we'll read it there instead.

And lose the liberal bias.  Do whatever you want on your editorial page but leave the rest of the paper opinion-free.  If you want us to pay to read your stuff - stop manipulating the news.  Give us the facts and let us decide for ourselves what to think.  It is a turn-off to be preached at from print.

If newspapers don't change, they'll go the way of the dinosaurs.  And, if they don't plan to change, I won't mind their extinction a bit.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind if all papers went tech, but you have to remember that there are MILLIONS of people, a lot of them senior citizens, who don't have cable TV, don't have a computer, and don't go to the library to use one. I work with the senior community, and when I ask groups of (independent, well-educated) seniors how many use the Internet, I get MAYBE one hand.

So print newspapers are the main source of information for a great many citizens, and I wouldn't want them to be deprived of their customary, familiar medium that they don't need a tutorial to use just in the interests of advancing technology.

Electronic media has one big failing: when the power goes out, the medium stops transmitting. No one can guarantee that all our digitally preserved CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc., will last into the next century, and that batteries for Kindle and iPhones will always be readily available and cheap.

That's not such a problem with print media--you can still read a Gutenberg Bible.

I don't know what the ultimate answer is, but I hope print media stays around a while. We have too much important stuff to preserve to trust it to a piece of magnetized plastic. Unfortunately the thinking seems to be inverted: we think putting stuff on fragile magnetized pieces of plastic will PRESERVE them permanently. Granny's baby pictures may be lost forever when the kids are grown.

St. Louis Conservative said...

I'm not advocating the end of print media or the printing press. I'm simply pointing out that if newspapers don't give people something that they want and can't get elsewhere . . . I don't think that we'll have them much longer. And the government bailing out the press is a very bad idea.