Study: Newspapers Sink Below Internet and TV as Information Sources

July 30, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

That’s not my headline, that’s from “Editor & Publisher.” It’s really not a surprise.   And much as I am a fan of newspapers and I recognize the inherent ironies and inconsistencies, the fact is I’m part of the problem.

This headline tops a story of a survey of Internet users.  56% of them “ranked newspapers as  important or very important sources of information for them, down from 60% in 2008 –  and below the Internet (78%) and television (68%).”

Of course, this result shows a lack of understanding of where the information found on the Internet originates.  Even if someone relies completely on the Internet for his information, a lot of that information originally comes from newspapers.

18% of those surveyed (Internet users) said because they can now get the same content online, they stopped their subscription to a newspaper or  magazine.  That led the study creators to conclude that “print newspapers can be sacrificed by a significant  percentage of Internet users.”

Yup, that’s harsh but no shocker.  Circulation has been dropping like a stone at most American dailies.  Several have gone out of business altogether.  The advent of the iPad and Kindle will likely accelerate the death spiral for newspapers.

The study authors also conclude the horse has left the barn, noting “the difficulty of getting  Internet users to pay for anything that they already receive for free.”  I could bemoan this as a sad state of affairs, but the truth is I’m also to blame.  I no longer pay for a hard copy of the New York Times, not even on Sundays.  I get it for free online.

There was a time when I would spend all Sunday morning reading my local paper, the NY Times and Boston Globe.  I would come away with ink-stained hands and loved it.  There’s something magical about passing a few hours with your spouse in the same room, silent, except for the turning of news pages and the occasional “Listen to this…”    I suppose we could do that with dueling laptops or iPads, but we don’t.   I miss my newsprint stained hands.  But appreciate the extra few bucks in my pocket, just like everyone else.