Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The incredible shrinking newspaper

As promised, the daily newspaper today is about an inch narrower than it was yesterday.

This means shorter and fewer stories as well as smaller and fewer photos. It also means dinkier ads, but, presumably, at the same price or higher.

This all leads to less workers needed to produce a shrinking newspaper. And, ultimately, fewer newspapers.

This is a trend that's been going on for decades.

The old broadsheet was about a yard wide when fully opened.

Today's unopened daily is about 11.5 inches wide. It's much easier to handle, particularly if you're crammed into a skinny airline seat or while exercising on a treadmill.

But, most importantly, it wastes less paper.

This is the evolution of newspapers. It won't be long now when the size will shrink to that of an iPad.

After that, you'll get your news delivered on your iPhone, if you don't already.

The conundrum that newspapers face is how to make digital content pay the same or better than newsprint.

Once newspapers figure this out, their profits will soar because they won't be burdened with huge paper and production costs or the labor-intensive home delivery maze. But, they may have to become like Amazon.com and supply e-readers to subscribers at a loss.

In order to survive in the meantime, newspapers will become even cozier to a few big advertisers (e.g. Realtors, car dealerships) and their interests rather than to the citizens at large. This narrow-minded focus will also shrink the subscriber base.

Essentially, we no longer have "journalists," but rather "content providers," who serve as P.R. scribes at a much lower salaries than true flacks.

Content can be anything and will be anything. And, like some say, when anything goes, eventually everything will.

Like it or not, this is the digital age.

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