Newspapers Not as Dead as You Think

We’ve blogged about proposals to save ailing print newspapers. Despite shrinking circulation and falling ad revenue, Daniel Gross doesn’t think print news is doing so badly. In a Slate column, he points out that “Every month, several million Americans pay to have newspapers and magazines delivered to their homes — a trick most online publications have yet to pull off.” Jason Kottke compares print newspapers’ sales strategy to Apple’s iPhone and Mac sales: “they have less market share but they make more money on each sale than their competitors by offering a premium product.” [%comments]


A modest proposal: Everyone who wants to publish a piece about how newspapers will do just fine should first be required to invest a large percentage of his net wealth in newspaper companies.

Indeed, this maxim should apply to anyone who wants to write about how X industry is undervalued or make any other prediction about the future. Words are great. Actions indicate belief and there's almost always a way to put money on your bet.

If you're not willing to put your money on it, shut up.

Steve M

Comparing newspapers to iPhones is like comparing blacksmiths to rocket scientists. In the labor analogy, you are assuming that because they are equallyrare, they offer an equally rare value. They do not. Similarly, and iPhone is premium product, but a newspaper is not? Have you actually read your local newspaper lately? It's crap; riddled with AP or Reuters articles that scratch the surface on many topics but fail to inform readers of anything substantive. Local coverage is even worse. Reporters don't "report" on anything, they regurgitate. Newspapers are dying because they suck.

Eric M. Jones

It is just a Dead Cat Bounce. It ain't making a comeback.

Along with vinyl records, tube amps, slide rules, typewriters, Super-eight movies, Polaroid film, reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, 8-track, slide projectors, mercury thermometers, telegrams, Morse code....


Hey, if my partner didn't take a printed newspaper, she'd have to go online to pull Mutts and the daily sudoku. As for me, I'm neither interested in the comics (aside from two) nor in denial of service attacks on my brain so I stick to web content. Qualitatively it isn't a whole lot better but quantitatively, I can scan a lot of it a lot more quickly than scanning a printed newspaper, I'm not bombarded by ads and can go online to pull the coupons I want and I don't get my hands black from the ink. I don't even have to turn the page to avoid the hit pieces thinly disguised as op-eds, I just don't follow those links. Much like landlines, people continue to take a newspaper out of inertia, unaware that, like cellphones, the Web has more to offer and fewer drawbacks.

Kim Siever

Where I live, the local newspaper is the best source for local news. No online service comes even close. Until that happens, I will continue with my subscription.


Eric, vinyl is making a come back. It will never hit the 14 year old girls at the mall, but passionate music fans are jumping back on the vinyl band wagon even though the sound is no longer analog.

John Edward


Vinyl will indeed continue to be bought so long as it's made. Download the MP3s and buy the vinyl. There's a physical commodity with value and a digital copy which'll never degrade. Collectors have their hobby and audiophiles/traditionalists have their preferred medium. It's win-win.

I don't think vinyl ever really left, it simply moved off the high-street and went into the basement. Indie bands have certainly led to a revival or at the very least it's continued existence.


Funny how all the bloggers want book deals to describe how dead the print medium is!!

I love newspapers and there is something nostalgic for me -- I am just like my mom when I read the paper and drift off into a post lunch nap on Sundays.

Avi Rappoport

Local news is so important that it can't be left to TV and talk radio -- they cover sensational stories but not school renovations and local business. Newspapers have more scope, unless they're broke. I pay for them.

matt from NJ

Here's why newspapers are doomed. It's too expensive to deliver. Daniel Gross is reading the quaintness of having papers delivered completely incorrectly. Instead of being a benefit, it's what will end the newspaper business

It would be interesting for you Freaks to vet the numbers in the above article


His argument is as follows:

1. Newspapers are doing better than online publications in some respects
2. therefore, newspapers are doing well/not so badly.

That is embarrassingly fallacious.

science minded

I have been waiting for an article such as this one. But before i read it, I have an idea. Newspapers in the recycling business. The same people who deliver should pick up and the paper should charge a fee for carting the papers off. there's a double benefit. You get your papers and the paper returned to you and the owner pays for it. Perhaps, a tax credit is in order.


I would pay to have my favorite blogs, alternative news sources, etc., delivered to my home or office. I hate reading off a screen!

Sheil Naik

“Every month, several million Americans pay to have newspapers and magazines delivered to their homes — a trick most online publications have yet to pull off.”

This may be so, but the number of Americans paying for newspaper delivery is decreasing - substantially. Take a look at newspaper circulation "growth" over the past 6 months: (courtesy of TechCrunch). The only newspaper to increase circulation over this period? The Wall Street Journal, with a 0.61% gain (whoopee!)

Comparing newspapers to iPhones is a terrible comparison too, because unlike newspapers, people are actually buying iPhones.

Bill McDermott

why would people pay money for a subscription to a print newspaper when they can get the same information online for free?

Angela Scheps

I agree with some of the earlier comments but I just can't cancel my subsription. Tthe newspaper is like an old friend waiting for me. You can pick it up anytime, without loging in. Fold it up and take it with you. You can read different points of view on many topics. Also for me it opens up the world to my 2 teenagers. They would never log into any news type website -not cool at all. But when they are bored eating breakfast, they will start glancing through the paper and end up reading many types of articles. I'm always surprised at the dinner table- I will mention an interesting article or something I read on- line and hear "Yeah Mom I read it about already" For that reason alone it's worth paying money for a newspaper subsription


Actually online media being more widely available, it is far more accurate than "printed newspaper". Because more often than not the "printed newspapers" are regulated by mainstream to show and present what they think is right. These days one always gets a clearer picture online, with amature reporters giving their first hand experience.