RIP newspapers

So, in case you haven’t heard… the newspaper is a dying industry. And when I say dying, I’m meaning a slow, painful death, with lots of twitching and convulsing. It is barely keeping afloat, and in shark infested waters no less, those sharks bearing the name of the “World Wide Web” of course.

Really, it is the “paper” end of the newspaper that is dying. Who needs paper anymore when we have everything on our phones, tablets, and computers? News is still generated, obviously, it’s just the way the content is distributed that has changed rather drastically. No matter how much the 65+ crowd drags their feet, hurling protests all the way, it’s not going to halt this online conversion.

In case you are curious there is now a website completely dedicated to chronicling the decline of newspapers – click here to check it out: “Newspaper Death Watch.”

It always takes me by surprise when people are shocked by this. I mean, obviously they don’t really read their papers if the first word they hear on the subject was from my mouth…

I suppose I should be in panic mode since I work for this industry. But, well, what am I going to do?

I should have snagged a job for Amazon, EBAY, or Apple a long time ago. Isn’t that what all Art and English majors do these days?

It is sad… the demise of one of the few things we still have from the ‘days of old.’ We no longer get milk on our front porch, drink Coca Cola from glass bottles, or listen to vinyl, but we’ve still been able to get our news delivered physically into our hands, hot off the press.

One of the last college classes I took was centered around the printed word. The class was meant to be about something entirely different, I can’t even remember the title of it now, but the professor took the liberty to change the curriculum to something he had wanted to teach about for years. It was one of the better classes of my college career. His name will be Professor Beret here. He went to Paris and insisted on wearing a black beret in the colder weather with his scarves and peacoat. I loved him – in a non-creepy way of course.

Professor Beret… just kidding, that’s Rembrandt. Professor Beret is better looking.

Moving on… Professor Beret focused on the history of the printed word, we went over Bibles and printing presses, and tons of fonts, but what I remember most is talking about this transition from physical print to digital. It is the way in which we, as human beings, process what is around us, that is having to evolve. We use our senses, and some of our senses are feeling rather left out in our relationship with computers.

Let me put it this way. When you pick up a book, newspaper, or magazine, you can smell the ink and paper, feel the indentations of the print and the texture of the paper itself, and even have the ink rub off on your fingers. Let me see you do that with a Nook or Kindle. (Yes, I may be slightly opposed to both… I like my books!) It may be a subconscious act, but when I say “the smell of old books” almost everyone will know what I’m speaking of. Not sure what they’ll say 200 years from now… “the smell of old hard drives.”

Oh, I just love old books!

It is sadly not just the online phenomena that is the reason behind the newspaper’s death, but the economy as well. Advertising is just… gone. For those who are unaware (I almost typed ‘unawares’ there) of how a newspaper works it is the advertising that pays the bills. Subscription costs help yes, but the advertising is what supports the majority of the business. Unfortunately no one can afford to advertise these days. Here in our small valley we are seeing big businesses close up and shut their doors permanently, left and right. And even more unfortunate for us, a large number of town members are all in favor for small businesses, therefore shutting out any larger corporations that may want to move in here. Not like I am in love with corporations, but I’m also not in love with seeing thousands of townspeople out on the street with their family’s in tow. Desperate times call for desperate measures, eh?

Anyway our newspaper here, my current employer, is going through some cutbacks… again. This will be the first that I have experienced, but those who have been here for many, many years longer than I, are veterans of these. They attempted to avoid such cutbacks by making some changes with the paper earlier this year. The biggest of those changes was going from a daily publication to a three-day. It was rough… it is still rough. The community did not take to that switch very well and apparently my sweet face screams to be complained and yelled at for it. I do not get paid enough to have the elderly shake their canes at me daily.

I believe that my sweet little town is under the impression that the newspaper is privately owned. Sillies. As this fast approaching death of newspapers closes in they will soon learn that theirs is not to be looked over, it will go down… eventually. Then they will have to shake their canes at someone else.

I say five years from now newspapers around the world are going to look very different. The smart ones will start converting to online now, get their heads in the Internet game. Smaller ones, like mine, may just drown, or turn into a weekly recap of local information.

Who I’m really concerned for are all those Pinners on Pinterest. How are they going to do all their craft projects with no newspaper or book pages?


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