“Free News Is Unsustainable”
Lets see here…….we’ll print our newspaper on Sunday because that’s about the only day readers have time to spend with the paper. We’ll print another edition on Wednesday because that’s the day supermarkets run their ads for special prices. And….we’ll print one more edition on Friday because that’s the day restaurants and entertainment venues are looking for readers planning their weekend. As for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday….don’t bother because people won’t bother with the NEWSpaper on those days. What a sad commentary on us…U.S.
It’s happening folks, all over the country. Dozens of newspapers are closing down completely and more and more even the most prestigious papers among us, are losing circulation to the point they can afford only three days a week. The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Press-Register in Mobile….all going to three days. And the big one…..The Times Picayune in New Orleans, 175-years old, is caving to online news and will publish only three days.
As a journalist for a near half century, I find this very disheartening. Yes I know…..I still sometimes refer to the keyboard on my computer as my typewriter but trust me when I tell you, if the world relies solely on “free news”, the world is going to be an incredibly underserved and underinformed society. The three-day-a-week approach is risky for the newspaper owners and an insult to it’s readers but let’s try it….I think. The status quo is not the answer for sure. Many newspapers in this country from the New York Times on down deserve to be “fish-wrapping” at best, but while doing nothing is not an option, it’s time to get back to the basics. Enter: Warren Buffett.
Yes…..that Warren Buffett! Buffett’s company is the largest shareholder of Washington Post Co. and they bought the World-Herald last year. Now, according to Bloomberg News, Buffett is signing a deal to buy 63 more newspapers around the country…Why? To quote Warren Buffett….”Free news is unsustainable.” He’s right. More and more publications are re-thinking the offer of free content on the internet. It’s back to the basics kids…or in Buffett’s words….”our company will probably purchase more papers in the next few years which will favor cities and towns with a strong sense of community.” Make it all available….a blend of print and digital….and again to quote Warren Buffett….”free news is unsustainable and papers must move to something that makes more sense.” Hooray!!!!!!