Is the Web Killing the Newspaper Industry?

Not so long as people still enjoy reading the morning paper on a Sunday morning. Notebook PCs are still a poor substitute for many folks with it comes to routine. For now, the newspaper will remain supreme in this arena.

Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have imagined not subscribing to the local newspaper. Waiting for the paper to come each day was an important part of life when I was growing up.

Not anymore. I still read the Dallas Morning News every day, as I have since childhood, but I don’t have to wait for it to be delivered all at once; now the stories are updated as they occur. I don’t have to go out in a downpour to get them, and I don’t have to deal with throwing away stacks of newsprint every week (on the downside, I don’t have a bunch of free packing material sitting around when I want to box up something fragile, either). I now read my news on the Web, and I’m not limited to my local newspaper. I read several major city and specialty dailies, and the only one I have to pay for is the Wall Street Journal. Ironically, the only rare occasions when I do pick up a print copy of the Sunday paper are when I’m in the market to buy something and want to look at the advertising inserts.

According to circulation figures, newspaper subscriptions are declining. Logically, the Web gets much of the blame. However, a closer look indicates that this is part of a twenty-year trend – quite a bit longer than the average person has had easy Internet access. Some industry analysts believe the real culprit (or at least the one that started it all) is twenty-four hour cable news. Others say changes in the rules governing telemarketing (the means by which major papers gained up to 65 percent of their home delivery subscribers in the past) have had the greatest impact of all. [Read the rest]