IBIS World named the newspaper industry as one of those most likely to become extinct in America, and for good reason it seems. According to the Newspaper Association of America, advertising revenue for newspapers continues to be in free fall hitting its lowest point since 1950.
And note that this isn’t just attributable to the switch from print to digital news. Notice, per Professor Mark Perry, that the trend is almost straight down even with online revenues included:
Part of the newspaper industry’s problem is, undeniably, one of medium. Printing the news on dead trees and distributing it to the public a day or so after it happened just isn’t a practical business model in this modern age.
But if that were the only problem, we should see the newspaper industry’s collapse mitigated by online revenue. Which means the problem isn’t just papers versus websites. The problem is the way newspapers report the news.
Newspapers are, in a word, boring. Which isn’t to say that sensationalism, and a turn toward more tabloid-style coverage, is what’s needed. But most newspaper journalism has become largely agnostic about truth. In reporting an issue, your average newspaper reporter will introduce the subject matter and then get quotes from the two opposing sides and leave it at that.
There’s little effort to challenge what they’re told. There’s little effort to refute narratives. I’m sure if you asked most newspaper reporters, they’d tell you that’s not their job. In fact, they’d probably take it as a point of pride – a sign of their objectivity.
Things are a different at the big, national newspapers, but they’re the exception. At the local level it’s almost always rote regurgitation of press releases and quotes, and that’s why newspapers are dying.