blog menace

Newspapers Baffled by Declines — I’d be interested in what you thought about this new column now running in PC Magazine. I’m asking for a second thread here because I’ve run into numerous blogs written by ex-newsmen as well as entire j-school departments which all make it sound as if the death of the newspaper is a foregone conclusion.

And it’s not as if the bloggers can tolerate any disagreement. I still keep running into references to New York Times’ technology reporter John Markoff’s off-handed remarks that he does a blog, it’s called “Newyorktimes.com” In a recent conversation he told me that as far as he was concerned blogging is essentially the same as “stamp collecting” for the semi-retired. He believes it has no future since no reporting is done.

A full report will follow shortly.



  1. Greg K. says:

    Dvorak must be getting close to retirement.

  2. Adrian says:

    I read that article, and I pretty much have the same reasons why I don’t have a magazine subscription. Does that mean that I don’t read the news?

    No.

    I just get it from other sources that aren’t going to physically clutter the place up until I get to it.

    You’re absolutely right. It’s the packaging more than anything else. Why should I pay for a daily or even Sunday Edition of The Arizona Republic, when I can just go to http://www.azcentral.com and get the meat of the news online. They even have RSS feeds available diced up a couple of different ways. That essentially relegates the printed copy to a shopper.

    Mr. Markoff has it totally wrong. You see, if I want additional information on some news article, there’s a pretty decent chance that I can find some blog somewhere that talks about what I’m looking for. How is that not reporting? Just because it’s not formalized doesn’t mean that it’s not reporting.

  3. Steve says:

    Have you ever seen reprints of 100-year old (or 200-year old) newspapers? They have the equivalent of an entire modern ‘A’ section on the front page, printed in 6-pont font without spaces or photos. They even have small, Google like, text-based ads between the stories. I used to think it was kind of silly the way they crammed so much information on one page, but now I wonder if I’d be a good idea to print a paper that’s under 10 pages, including ads.

  4. Catherine says:

    “John Markoff’s off-handed remarks that he does a blog, it’s called “Newyorktimes.com”

    He should do that for real…he should just let loose and use his column as his personal blog with headline stunners like “Ok..Let me tell you what reallyhappened last night at the bar…and”An open letter to my boss….Dear Putz…” The possibilities are endless….

  5. Jens Stampe says:

    I agree that American papers are clogged to death with ads. Here in the UK things are a bit different and a newspaper (at least a national one) is mostly news.

    The Times recently shifted formats from a traditional broadsheet to a tabloid and sales rose a bit. I think this is due to the fact it’s easier to read a tabloid paper than a broadsheet, especially on the train. It used to be that the tabloid format meant “rubbish” news (The Sun, The Mail, etc.), but now a couple of the “quality” dailies (Independent, Times) are tabloid-format that association of format with reader intelligence (i.e., tabloid=uneducated reader) is breaking down.

    So, maybe format is an issue as well with Ameri-papers. The broadsheet format is simply more difficult to read, especially in public.

  6. Ed Campbell says:

    One newspaper that I have some personal [and off-the-record] information about just did their once-a-decade “state of the newspaper” examination. They hired [of course] a firm of consultants who only perform such tasks. Since the newspaper in question — probably no different from any other — isn’t noted for hurling it’s cash to the four winds, I’m confident they checked out the consultant’s track record.

    This is a paper that’s had an online counterpart to the print edition for several years. They recently made a fee-based .pdf version available online, as well. They have a bright and experienced publisher — a sharp and thoughtful editor — for the online edition. In many ways, they’re more aggressive and freewheeling than the print crew.

    The consultants concluded the online edition already had a larger readership than the sum of their competitors, hard copy and online — in their target market. They concluded the revenue stream from the online edition — over the next ten-year interval — would become greater than that of the print edition.

    Should be pretty interesting.

  7. N says:

    Blogs are lots of things. They’re personal, corporate, work-product, stupid, fiction, or any number of other things. The New York Times is just worried about the News variety.

    Now, if I want news there are lots of places I can get it On Demand. I don’t have to have a stack of messy newspapers on my kitchen table. Plus, if I just want news from my area, or news reports about a specific story, or a specific subject, I can get it. So why, oh, why would I pay for something that’s of less use to me than that??

    I think bloggers also make no bones about their leanings which, strangely, makes them more easy to trust. They are out there with their biases while many feel that newspaper reporters have just as many biases but they creep into the reports more subtly.

    Blogs shouldn’t be his main concern, many of them have almost no readership, he should be worried about news sources already available on the web, and Google News, and those are not exactly “unsourced ranting”.

  8. John C. Dvorak says:

    Catherine, he hasn’t got the mentality to be a blogger. It would never happen. Of all the people in the world, he’d be the last one to blog. Zero interest.


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