Years ago, before radio and television and the Internet, newspapers were a critical feature in America. For centuries, American newspapers have printed not only the news but also opinion pieces, want ads, lost and found, and obituary notices. They have become a staple in the fabric of our society.
A number of factors have caused a decline in the number and profitability of newspapers. Among these are the loss of much classified advertising and severe drops in circulation.
Classified advertising used to be a significant source of revenue for newspapers especially for jobs, real estate, and vehicles. The article “Decline of newspapers” on https://en.wikipedia.org, describes the current situation: “Free services like Craigslist have decimated the classified advertising departments of newspapers, some of which depended on classifieds for 70% of their ad revenue. Research has shown that Craigslist cost the newspaper industry $5.4 billion from 2000-2007.” In addition, the consolidation of large department stores, which once used substantial advertising, hurt the newspaper industry.
With the advent of cable television and the Internet, newspaper circulation suffered. According to the Pew Research Center’s “Newspapers: Fact Sheet,” weekly circulation of newspapers fell 7% in 2015 and Sunday circulation fell 4%. The article continues, “The newspaper workforce has shrunk by about 20,000 positions, or 39% in the last 20 years.”
You may think that you don’t read newspapers. If you are using Google, you are often reading information gathered and produced by print media. One estimate put the percentage of online news derived from newspapers at 80%. Next time you Google a news item, check the byline. You will be surprised at the source.
“Newspapers are doing the reporting in this country,” observed John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times for five years. “Google and Yahoo! aren’t those people putting reporters on the street in any number. Blogs can’t afford it.” Google and Yahoo! also do not have the expense of union contracts, printing presses, delivery trucks, and other overhead.
The newspaper industry has gone through many ups and downs through the years, and the industry has survived. Perhaps this is just another bump in the road.
—By Karen Centowski
To see a video about printing a newspaper, go to Video: A behind-the-scenes glimpse into how this newspaper gets made at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAeeF8Upb-4.