Newspaperman contemplates suicide

Below, we have a link to the new blog of an excited former newspaperman.

Here we have a column in the Los Angeles Times saying it’s time to kill the Los Angeles Times — as a newspaper. David Sarno interacts with readers and says:

David New of Manhattan Beach was on the same page. “The question you and everyone else at the L.A. Times should be asking its print subscribers is: How can we save our paper?”

Well, it may sound radical, but my answer is this: We can’t save the paper, and we shouldn’t even try. Let me explain…

…by way of a distinction: Newspapers like The Times, which was founded in 1881, have distributed the news in paper form since they began. Until recently, there was no reason to use separate terms for the industry and its physical product — the word “newspaper” sufficed for both. But as we’re seeing now, that word is no longer enough: One “newspaper” is an institution whose mission is to gather, distill and present a world of information to its readers.

The other is just a piece of paper.

And as much as we cherish the newspaper that arrives on our doorstep every morning, as a medium for delivering news, it loses to the Web in too many ways. At the top of the list is, of course, currency. What you read on front pages is, quite literally, yesterday’s news — while what you see on home-pages is what is happening in the real-time present.

Nothing wildly new there, except where it appeared: in the newspaper. Yeah.

  • Indeed it is an interesting time when the newspaper publishes articles questioning its own future.

    I do hate to see newspapers disappear though. It is unfortunate to lose such a nostalgic piece of our history, but at the same time the newspaper has had a good run and maybe its time to move to the new medium.

    This news becomes more evidence of the likely future for the newspaper.

    PS Jeff, I love the “Yeah” at the end. Couldn’t have been put better. Also, I’m a few chapters into WWGD and loving it!

  • Jay

    Newspaper era is already ended.The actual format as we know will disappear and will change into something free, instantaneous and more ecologic.

    • James Blackman

      and who is going to fund quality journalism? Where are the ‘rivers of godl’ going to come from? Good quality, thorough journalism costs a fortune.

      • Andy Freeman

        > who is going to fund quality journalism

        Since we don’t get “quality journalism” now, and haven’t for some time, saving newspapers won’t address this point.

      • Who funded this?

  • Jay

    The future is now

  • Why newspapers spend precious column inches pronouncing their own demise ad nauseum confounds me. If your book wasn’t selling (to people like myself) you wouldn’t continue talking about what a flop it was.

  • James Blackman

    The problem that the net has, though, is that many people don’t like reading news on it! Some people just like reading it on paper. And yes, that includes the under 40s. So you can’t replace paper with web, because there is a DEMAND for print news, still. Just less of one.

  • RCH

    I think the Los Angeles Times is asking the wrong question. The real question here is whether a newspaper with no web presence at all can survive. Can they attract enough advertising and have distinct reporting that people will pay a subscription for. I think the answer is yes. The rush to the web has only cost newspapers money.
    So the next question is will people buy the newspaper if they can just go to the Los Angeles Times web site, and the answer appears to be no. However if all the newspaper got together and all agreed to be subscription only on the web then it would probably solve the whole problem. Free newspapers have always been around, and you get what you pay for. Companies manage to persuade consumers to buy cable tv instead of free to air by offering more value for the money. Newspapers need to find that value, and to do this they need to find out what consumers will pay for. Otherwise the only solutions are to close up shop or to make a different print only paper to the web site, content people cannot get unless they buy it.
    The internet isn’t everything, people still go to bricks and mortar stores to buy most things. Newspapers need to realise they are not compatible with the internet, just like shops are not compatible. There are plenty of people out there who hate reading from a computer screen. The only reason I would buy a newspaper is if there is something in it I can’t get on the internet. For example where I come from some classified advertisements are in print only, so I have to buy it to read them.
    The only people who can supply newspaper like information on the web are blogs, and they do it basically for free.

  • J

    “The only people who can supply newspaper like information on the web are blogs, and they do it basically for free.”

    90% of what I read from bloggers is borrowed from journalists reports.