Every morning before 5am, the paperboy tosses the daily edition of the local newspaper in my driveway.
It’s a ritual I’ve been going through for years despite the fact that I send my check for $226.20 every January for another year’s worth of news I won’t read even though I love the smell of ink.
I’m certainly not alone in the fact that many of us subscribe to newspapers and don’t read them, or subscribe only for certain features like the crossword or the Sunday coupons. I subscribe more out of habit than anything else, but I’m nearing the point where December 31, 2010 may be the last time the paperboy visits my home.
Some have signaled the death of the newspaper industry years ago as more and more people look to the web for their source of breaking news. Certainly the print media has taken a considerable hit with ad revenue and subscriber counts over the years, but I’m not looking for a black suit to wear to the funeral just yet.
Progressive local news organizations have invested heavily in their online presence over the past several years to turn their newspaper’s website into an auxiliary source of ad revenue and content for their readers. Front page stories in the print edition are supplemented with more in-depth reporting and side-bar stories on the website, on-line only features such as additional op-ed pieces, contests and more local coverage to drive traffic to the web. Some papers are investing in streaming video to provide live coverage for breaking news events or press conferences and are adding videographers and on-camera personalities to their staff to compliment their news delivery with video that often times rivals that of the local television stations.
The ritual of “the tossing of the paper” actually starts a few hours earlier with me waking up and immediately visiting the local newspaper’s websites to see the top stories of the day and to make sure my name isn’t in the Obituaries. I read the news from the three Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA papers as well as the Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel in south Florida before I head over to USA TODAY and then CNN, Fox News, and others. Once my morning news fix has been had, it’s off to the office but not before picking up that rolled bundle of newsprint and dispatching it.
Newspapers that embrace technology and use the web to deliver quality local news, opinion columnists with their finger on the pulse of the community and unbiased coverage will be around for a while and will undoubitly continue to see a decline in print subscribers as more and more readers take to the leap to the web. That doesn’t however signal the end of the newspaper industry, only a new beginning.