Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Thud Factor

Um.....Good place for one.....
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  Now 'paperboys on bikes' whose routes covered nearly every house on the block have been replaced by 'contractors in trucks' who often drive 70+ miles to deliver 300 papers.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 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, 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.


  1. I remember Vito explaining what "Thud Factor" was in a meeting. I had no idea and smiled when I saw it as a post of yours. Nice story.

  2. It is funny you talk about this today I was in the grocery when a lady tried to get me to subscribe to the local newspaper and when i told her that I don't like to get my hands dirty from the newspaper she just smiled and shook her head. I am sure she was thinking that my generation is nuts!

  3. I had no idea our Sunday morning rituals were so similar. lol Great post Lou Lou!

  4. Good Article. I hope we arent extinct in 2040 if CA is around I hope I will still be here as I doubt Social Security is in my future ! However it is true, the younger generation isn't so much into the paper, the only thing they really care about is the Coupons or digital papers!

  5. Hey Lou-
    Great article, thanks for the link. Sad, but true.
    On a funny note...A couple of years ago I told a receptionist at my dentist's office that I worked for the CA. When she inquired about what I did here I told her that I am the guy who drives around Memphis every morning and gets the newspapers down from subscriber's roofs (ya know, because it's hard to throw a paper and not have it land on the roof!). She couldn't believe there were that many papers on roofs and she thought it must be a fun and interesting job! I did, eventually, tell her that I was joking but we still talk about that when I get my teeth cleaned, haha!
    Have a groovy day :-)

  6. This is great! I don't believe that 2040 is D Day either....too much ink in the blood, I guess.

  7. Lou, Your latest blog just made me want to sit down and cry for two reasons: 1. Because I miss a "real" paper so much. 2. Because I pictured myself naked rolling around on a "real" paper. It deeply saddens me whenever I see people "glued" to their cell phones, whether to their ears or their hands. We used to hear the phrase, "take time to smell the roses". I guess one day that phrase will be changed to "put down your electronic devices and smell something". In the future will people's thumbs morph into giant appendages the size of bowling pins from over usage? I guess large thumbs would be handy if one was hitchhiking. However, who wants to stand on the side of the road thumbing a ride while all of the drivers coming at them are reading the paper or e-mails on their phones while driving? Not I. I'd rather be sitting down (dressed) reading the paper (the "real" one) with a normal sized thumb.

    Have a great day and weekend. I'm going to go take a shower... with the lights off. Bill in Starkville

  8. Hi Lou
    Well---I plan to be around in 2040 and am looking forward to the Morphed Tnud Factor. What could it be? A zap to my neural micro chip telling me to turn up the voltage so I can scan all the latest coupons for Depends, Efferdent and Polygrip? Enjoyed your Blog moonbaby! :-)

  9. This is great lou! Made my monday morning:)

    -jenna at PARADE:)

  10. Dear Lou:
    I just opened your reply to me about the Commercial Appeal and the "Thud Factor". I enjoyed your comments and your letting me in on how you and OS run its opperation. I regret that I don't get daily delivery of the CA, but, Snail Mail delivery is such that tha CA would be delivered a day late. Yesterdays paper is only good for one thing, wrapping garbage and fish remains to be put in the trash. SO, I am dependant on driving to Como, Ms (16 miles) to puchase one!!! I do enjoy the "Thud Factor" on Sunday morning when I walk to the mailbox and find the CA in the blue box installed to contain and protect the CA from the weather and other factors. Since I am 88 years of age, I may not be around in 2040 but I will continue as long as I can. Good luck to you and SO for continued good journalism.

  11. This is great! I firmly believe it will be a great disservice to future generations if we allow these rituals go by the wayside.

  12. Great article Lou! I suppose I must also be considered a Joneser (even though I too am just finding out the same). LOL. Keep up the good work!
    Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson

  13. Lou... I have to tell you I've been lamenting the decline of print for a while now. I have hope, though. Many people, young and old, still love print. I feel people are going to become less charmed with e-books and e-papers as time goes on - or, my hope clouds my judgement.

    I love books, i love papers, and that is not ever going to change.

  14. oh yeah.. and GO GIANTS!!

  15. Hey Lou - Good stuff. Long live paper!

  16. This blog is spot on for this "Joneser", in fact my very first job when I was 12 was as a carrier ( not what you're thinking Generation X ) for the L.A. Times, where I rolled my papers ( not what you're thinking Baby Boomers ) and collected for my entire route. Where else can a young boy or girl learn a lesson in responsibility better than getting themselves up at 4 AM to grab my papers from the driveway to take into the garage and throw in the ad papers into tight rolls where I learned another lesson.......the physics of balance by stuffing all my papers into my satchel then strapping that onto my iron horse ( not what your thing Generation Z ) and then learning the art of pedaling that bike while developing my right arm to have the speed and accuracy of a Nolan Ryan fastball ?
    As an adult I've become a newspaper junkie, it's so bad that wherever I travel for work or leisure I have to pickup the local paper of that city to see their spin on national and local stories, in fact I've come home with what feels like 22 pounds of newspaper from my trips,ha! I have recently learned that my favorite local paper The Commercial Appeal will not be available for home delivery but is available in electronic form via an app on my iPhone.........No thanks, I wanna feel that paper and see the ink on my fingertips and of coarse I wanna hear that "thunk" even if it was thrown by a Baby Boomer's car.

    Mike from Blyvegas

  17. Good post, Lou. I missed the thud this past Sunday. I'll stay in touch.