Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Newspaper Circulation Continues to Slide
The newspaper industry has reported another substantial drop in daily circulation. (Link) As usual the Internet has again been assigned the blame. William Falk, editor of The Week has a different view: ". . . the cause of death will not be the Internet. It will be suicide. Newspapers still make tons of money: the industry's average profit margin is 20 percent, compared to 7 percent for oil companies, and 6 percent for the entire Fortune 500. But the mammoth corporations that now run newspapers have responded to the new competitive challenges in the stupidest possible way: by cutting quality. They're eliminating foreign bureaus, investigative reporting teams, and experienced editors, filling their pages with shallow filler and bland features. Ambitious reporting and edgy writing are disappearing. Once great newspapers . . . are now flat and generic; their authority is leaking away. The corporate guys, who think only of pleasing Wall Street, keep cutting costs and boosting profits, and wringing their hands in puzzlement when circulation keeps going down. Guess what, guys? People stop buying newspapers when there's nothing in them they don't already know."