Sunday, November 1, 2009

Print media companies now a punch line

The decline of newspapers and magazines is a concern among intellectuals, informed citizens and, of course, working journalists. The subject is also fodder for comedians.
Consider this Onion News article, “Report: Majority Of Newspapers Now Purchased By Kidnappers To Prove Date.” (Read the Oct. 14 humor piece here.)
This past summer, Slate.com posted a funny video that made light of the fact that struggling newspaper companies are laying off thousands of journalists. The video promotes an adopt-a-journalist program. (Watch it here.)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" poked fun at the decline of newspapers in this report called "End Times" from last June.
But the shifting media landscape is no joke.
People don’t want to pay for news anymore after getting it for free online. Advertisers don’t value the online audience the same way they valued the print audience. That means less revenue for media companies and, as a result, fewer journalists. And fewer journalists mean less original reporting. That’s not good for our society.
The Web site Journalism Is Dead features “a collection of alarmist, bombastic and otherwise humorous quotes about why journalism as an industry is dead.” It was put together by journalist Mark S. Luckie, who runs 10,000 Words, a blog dedicated to exploring innovations in new media technology. (Check out Journalism Is Dead and 10,000 Words here.)
Reading Jim Romenesko’s blog on Poynter Online, tweets from The Media Is Dying, articles on Editor & Publisher and other Web sites, it’s hard not to get depressed about the future of journalism.
Newspapers are laying off reporters and editors in response to advertising and circulation declines. Numerous magazines are shutting down or cutting their number of issues and slashing jobs for similar reasons.
Paper Cuts reports that U.S. newspapers have cut more than 14,000 jobs this year so far.
Journalism jobs have disappeared at almost three times the rate that jobs have gone away in the general economy since the financial meltdown occurred more than a year ago, Editor & Publisher reported Sept. 21.
Daily newspaper circulation was down 10.6% for the six months ending Sept. 30 vs. the same period a year ago, according to PaidContent.org. It cited the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Newspaper circulation is now at a pre-World War II low, according to Alan D. Mutter, who writes the Reflections of a Newsosaur blog. Only 12.9% of the U.S. population now buys a daily newspaper.
Daily newspaper circulation now stands at 39.1 million. That’s lower than the 41.1 million papers sold in 1940, the earliest date for which records are published by the Newspaper Association of America. Back in 1940, newspapers were purchased by 31.1% of the population, he writes.
Makes you long for the good old days.
On that note, check out the Life magazine photo essay titled “When Newspapers Mattered.”

Art: Sample quote from Journalism Is Dead.
By the way "phrenology" is the study of the shape and protuberances of the skull, based on the now discredited belief that they reveal character and mental capacity.

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