Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Even Smart People Get Wedded to a Particular Paradigm

Warren Buffet is a smart man, but he seems confused about why newspapers are cutting back. Warren Buffett: New Orleans Times-Picayune's New Publication Schedule Is 'Simply Unsustainable'

I'm sure he reads at least one newspaper every day. 25 years ago I read 2 - almost every day. (The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Mercury News.) But there is no mystery as to why newspapers are cutting back - they can't afford to do anything else. The newspaper business is in trouble. [Click the image for a larger view, or click the link for more info - and not just on the newspaper business.]

Newspapers once got a substantial bit of revenue from want ads, classified ads, and the like. When I am looking for something or have something to sell, I think of Craigslist, eBay, or one of the more specialized sites. Not my local paper. And if they can't get people to but the paper, they can't collect advertising dollars for subscribers/readers. The only thing that surprises me is that it has taken this long for the problems with newspapers to become this large.

I haven't read a newspaper regularly in years. I didn't care for the politics of the paper where I was in Florida, and I don't care for it much where I am in Ohio. And since I don't need to get a lot propaganda delivered to my door everyday in order to feel informed, I don't bother supporting them.

That chart is interesting for 2 reasons. One is that in 1950 newspapers were in a good position. So if ad revenue is on a par with where they were in 1950, they should be doing OK. (Remember those are dollars adjusted for inflation.) But the downward trend is the kicker. And it is a problem.

Most of the stories reported by blogs come from news organizations. If those news organizations disappear, or are swallowed up by a few of the organizations whose politics offends me when it is masquerading as news, then everyone loses. Maybe the papers will figure out how to survive in the new model. Who knows? I do know I might have continued to support the paper in Florida, or the one here is Ohio, if they had been objective news organizations. But they had a mission. A desire to get folks to only see their point-of-view, which might have worked in the 50s, but fails miserably today.

So Warren Buffet is confused about the downfall of newspapers. Not surprising. Everyone has something from their youth they can't give up.

1 comment:

Old Guy said...

I used to read at least 2 but usually 3 newspapers a day when I lived in NYC. Did them on the subway to and from work. Now I read the sort of local Sunday paper mostly for the comics and the ads. The rest of the paper I browse but is is a liberal piece of junk.