Monday, March 2, 2009

Death of the Printed Newspaper

I used to think newspapers would be around as long as we needed something to read in the bathroom. It’s not like we can bring our laptop in there, right? Wrong. New technologies make information gathering and receiving possible almost anywhere, even on the iThrone.

For anyone who has listened to me closely for the last three or four years, the end of the printed newspaper has been coming. Not a complete shutdown of the media vehicle but survival beyond printed paper.

As younger audiences (readers) abandon newspaper for online services or Smartphone devices for their news delivery, this could become a sad trend.

When John Temple was delivering copies of The Province to homes in his Vancouver neighbourhood during the 1960s, he thought the newspaper business would go on forever.

Now Mr. Temple, the editor and publisher of Denver's Rocky Mountain News, isn't so sure.

Sadly, the Denver Rocky Mountain News has stopped the presses. The News published its last edition Friday. E.W. Scripps Co., the papers publishers said the newspaper had lost $16 million last year and no viable buyer could be found to breathe new life (money) into it.

Friday, the News or "Rocky" as local referred to, had a daily circulation of 210,000 and 457,000 on Saturdays, became the nation's largest newspaper to cease publication in an economic recession that already has sent the Chicago Tribune and both of Philadelphia's daily papers running for bankruptcy cover, among others, and put a For Sale sign on the Miami Herald. If we were a Ford or GM, they ran out of gas 55 days before their 150th anniversary.

The demise of the News leaves The Denver Post as the only major daily newspaper in Denver. On Sunday, a crane removed the Rocky Mountain News sign from the building it shared with The Post under a joint operating agreement.

Earlier this year the owners of several other large U.S. newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, have already filed for are in bankruptcy protection. Hearst Corp. has said it will close the San Francisco Chronicle unless major budget cuts are imposed or a buyer is found. The company is also prepared to close the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if it can't be sold.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors announced Friday it was cancelling its annual convention, scheduled for April, so newspapers can save money and focus on surviving the recession. The last time the group cancelled was during the final months of World War II in 1945.

In Canada, Canwest has said it may close stations in five cities, and media outlets everywhere – including The Globe and Mail (which is owned by CTVglobemedia) have cut staff.

A final cryptic note: It’s not that newspapers are dying but maybe it's newspaper readers. Maybe you’re mom and dad still reads the box scores and fashion updates... but look at you. You’re reading a blog.

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