Third to Half of Big City Newspapers out of Business in 3 Years?

I used to subscribe to 3 daily newspapers before the internet (I live in a rural area in the middle of nowhere) and now subscribe to none.

I have no doubt on this topic

Much cheaper to read online.

The old people who do not like change will NOT like this at all

I’d have no problem with newsprint publications disappearing IF online newspapers weren’t so downright awful. Ours is, at least. Grammar is abhorrent, spelling is absent, content level is junior high-ish, and the screen is so full of ads it is impossible to load without crashing or waiting a month or so for all of it to load.

Granted, newsprint newspapers have abandoned much in the way of content since the tyranny of the internet, but at least in some regards it is still a source of content beyond the 30 second soundbyte you get on the television news.

Hey, I is one of those 'Old People ', and I have adjusted…sort of.

What I’ve noticed most is that cities that used to have 2 or even three papers are almost completely down to one (save the big three-NY, Chicago and LA). For example, when I lived in St. Louis there was the Post-Dispatch and the Globe-Democrat. Now only the P-D is around. Same in Cleveland (Plain Dealer is the only daily paper now that The Press is long gone).

Here in Huntsville, the local paper is now only a 3-day a week delivery (Wed-Fri-Sun) with the rest of the week on-line. I expect sooner or later it will be gone.

Hey, I have and will adjust, but there is something…satisfying about having a paper and reading it. And the opinions and editorials, the deep studies and opinion pieces, I will miss them when they finally go.

*^^# Whippersnappers…

Old people who like editors to proofread, to insure that sources are valid, and who prefer substance to click bait. Most online papers tell their “reporters” to get the story up first, check the facts later, and many papers pay their field people by the number of clicks on the story link, so the story headlines become more and more misleading. This was admitted to during a tour of The Oregonian spaces last year. In-depth reporting (aka ‘journalism’) seems to be becoming scarcer and scarcer, as layoffs reduce news staff to skeleton crews. I don’t really care if the paper is online or onporch, but get the story straight before publishing.

Most newspapers haven’t made very good decisions with their online presence, which doesn’t help.

Several years ago, I wanted to subscribe to the e-edition of our local paper … but couldn’t do it without also taking the hard copy edition (The Wall Street Journal also does this. I don’t want the dead tree version. They may want me to see those print ads, but frankly I can’t afford a single thing they’re hawking in them). Then they changed their subscription structure to allow e-edition only, but the software on their site refused to accept my credit card information. I’d click Submit after entering the info and nothing would happen. I called customer service … and still nothing happened. Some other company was handling that for them, and I guess they just didn’t care. It remained broken … for over a year! I wonder how many customers they lost in that time?

Most newspapers have been very slow to offer good online products and monetize them, and they’re getting bit hard.

I think in the future, we’re going to see real journalism coming much more from non-profit organizations like The Center for Investigative Journalism and ProPublica and much less from the old profit-making businesses.

Even “small city” newspapers are in the game. My hometown paper (in South Dakota) services a county of about 5000 people, and they publish a paper that has a circulation of over 3500, which isn’t bad for the size of the community. (They live on the revenue from government listings and notices.)

Many of their subscribers don’t actually live in the area, so they offer an electronic version. It’s NOT a web site, it’s a scanned PDF of the printed paper, which means it’s impossible to search or copy and paste. They charge practically the same for this “electronic” version as their print version. The only benefit is out-of-town subscribers can see the news (ie, the obituaries) the same day as the hometown folk, instead of waiting ten days like we do.

Their market is just too old to ever give up the printed version, so that will probably be there until they all die off or the paper is no longer profitable. Their electronic version sure does stink though.

Think about all the people who depend on newspaper to do things like wrap fish in, to line bird and dog cages, to use for paper mache, use to light fires, etc…

And then there are the comics and the crossword puzzles.

I have a paid full subscription for the electronic version of our local paper, which is still a daily. We get the paper version on weekends only, primarily for coupons. If we ever drop the print version, how will I light my charcoal?

Tear up some of your Amazon shipping boxes!

I think the big change that has already been underway in many cities is fewer weekday papers. No home delivery two+ days a week with newsstand only edition, if that.

I think for a 3 year window, this will be the only common change on the scale of third to half.

Hubby likes the dead tree version of the Washington Post. From what I can tell they don’t care enough about their declining industry to make basic improvements to their operating practices. Namely, the way the paper is delivered. When I was young, paper routes were for kids. I helped one of my friends with hers for a little while so got to experience working a paper route. We had to get up at 3:30 am because that’s when the papers were delivered to her house. We had to combine the sections together, roll and rubber band them and stick them all into her bike bag. Then we had to deliver them all before 5:30am.

Now, our paper is delivered by an adult driving a car. (I don’t have a problem with that part.) Apparently they’re only required to deliver by 6:30 on weekdays and 7am on weekends. Given how many people have long commutes into the city and leave home around 5:30 or 6, you’d think they’d want their papers delivered before they left home. So if the paper sees a decline in subscriptions, maybe that’s one reason why!

Also, when the paper is late, hubby has to report it online. I’ve never seen anything come from doing that, though. It’s not like they bring the paper to our door with an apology or anything. Half the time it never shows up, half the time it mysteriously appears in our driveway several hours later.

The local Montreal paper is making it harder and harder to read the print version. I buy it mostly for the comics and puzzles and they are in a different place every day. There is a table of contents , but it is on page 2 (unless it is page 4 because 1 and 2 are advertising) and if something is in section 3, that means the fourth section because the second section is from an ultraconservative Toronto paper. I don’t know why I continue to subscribe. It is useful for wrapping garbage in though because it can be composted.

The largest French paper has just dropped weekday print editions. It has weekday online and a printed weekend edition. I guess printed daily papers are toast.

Old guy

As someone else alluded to, I definitely am worried about how I am going to start my charcoal if newspapers cease printing dead tree versions. One can hope that the companies that supply the paper to the publishers will just sell it directly to consumers who need it for that purpose, but right now I basically get all the newsprint I want for free as there is a weekly paper here that gets delivered to every single residence.

It will be an interesting world to witness when people wake up to discover nobody is reporting on the misbehavior of people in power. And it will be interesting to see how much those folks try to get away with under the cover of darkness.

I work for a combined media company (TV, radio, online, and print), and we are definitely feeling the digital pinch, and I can see either the daily paper disappearing or printing operations being all sent to a sub-contractor within 3 years. Unfortunately, there still seems to be great mystery with some people in the company about how to make money through the online formats, and that is what seems to be killing the industry slowly.

As far as investigative journalism, there are still plenty of people who are passionate about it, so uncovering the dirt on people will not stop, it will just be brought to the public in different formats.

When I was first traveling for business it the early 90’s, there would be huge stacks of USA Todays and the local paper in the lobby or delivered to your door each morning. Now there might be a dozen or so copies and no one wants them. Why read twelve hour old news when you can get up to the minute stuff on your phone?

Other than old news, another factor is that there are so many more options of how to fill up spare time. Between TV, Netflix, social media, forums, etc., there is less free time to read the paper. Where someone in the past may have read the paper with breakfast, now that time is spent reading something like twitter, tumbler, or facebook. Reading the paper is done for some combination of entertainment and information. But now there are so many ways to get new entertainment that the paper is less useful.

I get enough credit card offers to start another Chicago fire.


I don’t need to light charcoal, but I need the newsprint to shred for my vermicompost. Regular paper gets too soggy. If the local free weekly tourist rag goes away I’m sunk.