Monday, March 17, 2008

The news that's printed to fit

It's a rough time for the newspaper business -- perhaps the biggest reason I decided to turn toward public relations as a career. Seemingly, not a day goes by without a report of some huge paper offering buyouts or simply wielding an axe through the editorial department. The Washington Post and Newsday are among the latest casualties.

A recent report I read stated that from 2004-07, every paper in the U.S. Top 20 recorded losses in circulation -- some as high as 20 percent. My old paper, the New York Post, lost less than three percent, the lowest drop of the bunch.

In our area, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald are both hurting; the Globe has had to slog down the buyout/layoff route, and the Herald's circulation has actually dipped below that of the Boston Metro, a free newspaper.

One of the biggest reasons has been the propensity for people to get their news online, which amounts to papers giving their wares away for free, which means less readers smeared in newsprint, which means less advertisers making money, which means lower revenues for the papers.

For years, the folks that ran newsrooms failed to see the storm coming. Many were stuck in the conventional wisdom of decades ago that "commuters will always want something in their hands," which is why "there will always be newspapers." Commuters have plenty in their hands, all right -- cellphones, laptops, PDAs -- all capable of providing what papers had, minus the newsprint.

That's to say nothing of those plugged into their iPods, who aren't getting news at all. Indeed, that's a harbinger that the skies will only get darker for the newspaper biz. At least then, folks could use their papers as umbrellas when the next storm hits.


You probably don't need me to tell you how devoted Boston sports fans are. I know about passionate, knowledgeable sports fans in New York. But up here, it's a little different.

Whenever I meet someone from New England, they always ask me where I'm from (since I don't pahk the cah). When I tell them "New Jersey," they'll say, "You're not a Yankee fan, are you?" As a Mets fan, I'm readily accepted, Bill Buckner notwithstanding.

In the NY/NJ metro area, it's a lot more tempered. Half the people in New York hate the Yankees because they're Mets fans. There's also the Giants and Jets, the Knicks and Nets, the Rangers, Islanders and Devils. Up here, everybody's a Pats fan. Everybody's a Sox fan, Celtics fan and Bruins fan. Hell, one time when I went to the Christmas Tree Shoppe, I heard people talking in line about how the Sox "have to win today." And that was a regular-season game against the Orioles!

No comments: