All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Paper Cuts

The economic crisis is hitting the media hard. Gannett laid off 10% of its staff. The Chicago Tribune (owner of the Cubs) is bankrupt, as is sister paper the Los Angeles Times. CNN laid off its entire science department, including Miles O'Brien. The New York Times was forced to take out a mortgage on their building last week. Christian Science Monitor is going web-only, no longer printing a dead-tree version. The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News are considering delivering papers only three days a week, and asking their subscribers to read the paper online on other days.

This article from AFP has a summary:

US newspapers struggling to survive

Circulation is dropping, print advertising revenue is falling and readers are going online to get news for free, leaving the US newspaper industry awash in red ink and threatening some of the biggest names in journalism.

"The business model that used to work at newspapers does not work any more," The Washington Post Co chairman Donald Graham said last week, echoing what many observers of the US media landscape have been saying for some time.

...The crisis gripping the industry is of course no laughing matter to the 15,422 newspaper employees who have been laid off this year or taken buyouts, according to figures compiled by Erica Smith, a St Louis Post-Dispatch journalist who tracks the cuts on her blog at

Media job losses are also being updated several times a day on a feed on micro-blogging service Twitter started last month by a group of public relations agents called The Media Is Dying (

Not a day goes by without more bad news for the newspaper industry as the financial slowdown accelerates the decline in print advertising revenue and more classified advertisers turn to free websites such as

As the article points out, the problem is not all due to the financial crisis. Rather, the bad economy has hastened what was probably an inevitable decline. The traditional media was already under pressure from "new media" - the Internet.

A few years ago, I was home for Christmas and watched Hawai`i win a thrilling bowl game with my parents. After the game, my mom couldn't wait to read about it in the paper the next day. Not me. I got online and read about it right away. Not only that, I went to the loser's web site and read their articles, too. And didn't have to get black stuff all over my fingers.

I have never subscribed to a newspaper, and I can't imagine I ever will. Why, when you can get news for free on the net?

And yet...I'm not sure net news is ready to stand alone. A bunch of bloggers isn't going to provide the coverage that real papers with regular reporters can provide. Some papers have been trying to transition to the web, but the bad economy is making that difficult. Web advertising is likely to drop just like print advertising is. (Perhaps even more so, since browsers like Firefox allow people to easily block ads.)

Eventually, that may affect even us bloggers. The dot-com bust saw a lot of "free" things that people had taken for granted disappear, or become so crippled as to be useless. Free Internet access, such as Juno and Netzero, became pay services. Free webhosting became so limited and choked with ads that most people ended up paying for hosting instead. I wonder if the same thing will happen to blogs and social networking sites this time around.

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posted by BubbaFan, 8:23 PM


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