There was an article on Bloomberg (a business and financial website) this past week that hard copy newspapers will be gone by the year 2040. I suppose, that as sad as that sounds, the death knell of newspapers is eventually inevitable....... by that time the baby boomers, of which I thought I was one, will either be gone or on respirators.
Growing up in an era when the local newspaper was King has made me a bit nostalgic. I was a paper boy (still am for that matter). My son was too. It taught a good sense of responsibility at an early age. Now 'paperboys on bikes' whose routes covered nearly every house on the block have been replaced by 'contractors in trucks' who often drive 70+ miles to deliver 300 papers.
Philly telling it like it is
I have a Smart Phone, which I confess, makes me feel none too smart a good deal of the time and an iPad2 but it's just not the same loading up the digital edition as having that big old fat Sunday paper waded & thrown up there on the sidewalk. There is that anticipatory excitement and 'the ritual' with the Sunday paper......
I wake up, after resisting for a bit, throw on my Ole Miss hat, turn on the TV and start the coffee. Then it's out the front door to pick up the 2lb. blue sack which I already know is there from hearing it hit the ground the night before. This varied activity is played out in neighborhoods across America. Today, I take a quick survey of my 'hood' and of the 16 houses on the block, 5 take the Sunday paper (roughly a third). I suppose I should take this survey a little deeper and go bang on some doors, iPad in hand, & find out what generation each belongs to: Boomer, Generation Jones, Gen X or Gen Y and what makes then tick. However, I can't. I am currently in a state of daze. All these years I thought I was a Boomer and, come today, I find out there is some made up new category (I'm a Joneser....WTH) and they shelved me in there! Ugh....need coffee & the comfort of my paper!
My hometown Squeeze
After fixing my coffee, it's back to the coffee table to unwrap my prize and spread the sections out all over. I seldom read the front page first unless there is something sensational or of compelling personal interest. Today is no different. Instead I opt to freelance the sections out of order, because I'm a rebel (in my own mind anyway),.....often going, strangely enough, to Op-Ed, to see what my colleague OS has on his mind today........and whether I will agree with him. More times than not I do. After that it's book reviews & the New York Times Bestsellers list. Then I usually like to see what's happening in Business, especially the local scene & hoping for good news. In years past, being from Philly, I would have gone straight to Sports first but that section usually falls to third or fourth on my list now unless the Memphis Tigers or the Grizzlies are playing. Neither is.....nor is there hope the Griz will be playing anytime soon. I can't avoid them tho! That impact lands them in Business
A Rite of Passage
About this time I am wondering if I should even get up today...... I grab the M Section (A&E) & turn to my horoscope. Good fortune! I'm a Moon Baby & it's 5 STARS! Joy.....I can leave the house & I am thinking my Eagles will trounce the Cowboys tonight too! About this time I catch a peak at the Classified Section and there is an article in Careers on Networking.....one of my favorite pastimes. I am there. After that, it's off to Local News, My Life & a quick glance at the Obits just to make sure I haven't 'deadlined' & made that column.
Statistics still say newspapers are the Number One destination for advertising. I agree. Everything else is about ad avoidance except for 'search' and Super Bowl Sunday. Today I'm thinking the extreme couponers are happier than an F5 whittling through an Arkansas trailer park because there are over $200.00 worth! Me, I look for my Walgreens circular to see what's on sale. Like churches, there's one on every corner in Memphis and it's my favorite store! I usually peek at most of the circulars especially my favorite French store Target' & Best Buy for stuff I don't need but must have....
At $2.00, the Sunday paper is both a bargain and an institution. If you get home delivery, it also comes with the full suite of digital products....and 'breaking news'! I like to tease a good friend in MS. We had to sell him the digital edition a few years ago when we cut back delivery to his area. Every once in awhile, I send him a hard copy. He pitches a tent by the mailbox, loads up on sun screen & bug repellent and waits on the mailman. Then he likes to tell me he rolls around the newspaper naked when he's done reading, a vision I'd like to avoid. Or when I get an e-mail from my favorite radio DJ pleading with me to 'water board' or, at the very least, perform an acid drip on a carrier because he didn't get his paper that morning.......
That's the kind of passion that loyal readership exudes!
No, I don't believe that newspapers will be extinct by the year 2040.....not even close! Newspapers will morph into something else..... much like the 2002 Tom Cruise film Minority Report
depicting the year 2054. It featured eye-sensor behavioral targeting and a USA Today digital e-paper with BREAKING NEWS. Both technologies already exist!
The future, as is often said these days, is here, but for now enjoy 'the thud factor' & the wonder of the daily miracle.....ink, toil & newsprint and keep your smart phone handy for the updates.
In 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a day. The worldwide recession of 2008, combined with the rapid growth of web-based alternatives, caused a serious decline in advertising and circulation as many papers closed or sharply retrenched operations. While there are many less daily broadsheets & tabloids today, many newspapers have seen resurgence in both areas as they further define the business model.
ENJOY A NEWSPAPER THIS SUNDAY..........YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID!