A victim of ever increasing fast-paced news deliveries, newspapers may soon be a thing of the past.
It’s always sad when someone loses their job, no matter who it is. Having been in management, I have been on both sides of the desk when “the conversation” was held. I have informed people in their late 50s that our company was downsizing, and their jobs had been eliminated, and I have seen the look of fear in their eyes as they consider what few options they may have for surviving for the next ten years or so.
I have also experienced the same fear, once with a child in the hospital, as I was informed my services were no longer needed at the company where I was employed. Believe me, I know that feeling all too well.
Yesterday, the parent company of the New York Daily News, Tronc, announced it was it was laying off approximately 50% of its editorial team, and refocusing the paper’s efforts on breaking news, as well as local news, sports, and events. The newspaper had been losing money for quite a while, and the announcement was not all that surprising.
Still, these are human beings with families to support, and quite frankly, the newspaper business as a whole isn’t headed for a boon time, so there may not be many places where the laid-off employees can land without changing careers.
But that is part of the evolving American employment landscape. We have seen similar layoffs in the automobile industry, the steel industry, and the almost extinct American textile industries. Some of it is due to cheaper off-shore labor, some of it caused by innovation and modernization, and some of it caused by changes in the way our goods and services are provided to us.
As the world becomes more and more digital oriented, newspapers play less and less of a part of everyday citizens’ daily lives. Time was the reading of the newspaper was an integral part of the morning or evening in our homes, only to begin to be replaced, first by TV news, then 24-hour cable news shows, and finally internet content.
People, and especially younger people, are not willing to spend money for a newspaper subscription when they are already accustomed to getting their news immediately through websites, and increasingly through social media, for free. They prefer to receive push notifications in real time, as opposed to sitting down to print media that is at best 8-10 hours old.
The Daily News has the right idea, for now. Focusing on local news that normally doesn’t play on the cable channels and is unlikely to get a mention on the local TV news shows, gives their readers a chance to reflect at their leisure on these events.
Coverage of amateur sports stories, the local traffic incidents, and book signings and events at the local coffee shops is the formula that allows many small-town newspapers to survive, at least for a while longer. It follows that social media will soon replace that as well, even in Anytown, USA.
It seems the writing is on the wall, and for those of us who grew up reading the Sunday paper, with color comics, and feature articles, it feels kind of sad. I’m sure saddle manufacturers, corset makers, and vinyl record player companies felt somewhat the same as their products faded into obscurity.
Progress marches on, and the times they are a’ changing. When we gain efficiency and advances, we sometimes lose the charm of taking a bit of time from our busy schedules just to slow down and relax. Reading the newspaper was one of those opportunities. It will be sad to think a whole generation may never have that pleasure.