And then there was none

And then there was none

: On yesterday’s MediaCenter webcast called The Vanishing Newspaper, the author of a book by the same title, Philip Meyer, gave lots of illuminating stats from his study of the relation between quality and credibility on one axis and circulation and success on the other.

He showed a chart with declining newspaper readership and said that if you continue that line, the last reader recycles the last paper in 2040 — April, 2040, to be exact.

I joked that I think that’s about the time Social Security will go bust. There’ll be a lot of very hungry former reporters. (It’s hard to get a laugh on a webcast.)

Meyer also said that these charts tend to level off but he could also see it accelerating.

  • Patricia

    Here’s a strange little movie from Georgia Tech Psych Department (?) on the demise of newspapers. Great production values, but I can’t figure out what its purpose is.

  • Mike G

    What I think we’ll see happen is some major city– at least a second-tier one with 750,000 people– will lose its last daily paper, because the economics of producing a complete newspaper won’t make sense.
    And at that point what will be interesting will be what rushes in to fill the void. Websites, blogs, yes, but you will certainly see a nearby big paper suddenly launch an edition for that town, and start a process toward regional dominance. At the same time someone might start a smaller daily aimed just at businesspeople in that town, with minimal coverage of all that other stuff. It might be that newspapers aren’t dead– just the idea that a newspaper has to have five sections and be closely tied to a single metropolitan area.

  • From Laurie Garrett’s resignation memo to Newsday, on
    Ever since the Chandler Family plucked Mark Willes from
    General Foods, placing him at the helm of Times Mirror
    with a mandate to destroy the institutions in ways that
    would boost dividends, journalism has suffered at
    Newsday. The pain of the last year actually began a
    decade ago: the sad arc of greed has finally hit
    bottom. The leaders of Times Mirror and Tribune have
    proven to be mirrors of a general trend in the media
    world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St.
    second and somewhere far down the list comes service to
    newspaper readerships.
    Profits: that’s what it’s all about
    now. But you just can’t realize annual profit returns
    of more than 30 percent by methodically laying out the
    truth in a dignified, accessible manner. And it’s
    damned tough to find that truth every day with a mere
    skeleton crew of reporters and editors.
    journalists have tried to defend their mission,
    pointing to the paucity of accurate, edited coverage
    found in blogs, internet sites, Fox-TV and talk radio.
    They argue that good old-fashioned newspaper editing is
    the key to providing America with credible information,
    forming the basis for wise voting and enlightened
    governance. But their claims have been undermined by
    Jayson Blair’s blatant fabrications, Judy Miller’s
    bogus weapons of mass destruction coverage, the media’s
    inaccurate and inappropriate convictions of Wen Ho Lee,
    Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill, CBS’ failure to
    smell a con job regarding Bush’s Texas Air Guard career
    and, sadly, so on.
    Now is the time to think
    in imaginative ways. Salon and Slate have both gone
    into the black; in nations like Ukraine and South
    Africa courageous new forms of journalism are arising;
    some of the blogs that clog the internet are actually
    quite good and manage to keep politicians on their