Michael Kinsley writes a funny, but dead-on piece about the dumb process of making newspapers and delivering them to our doors, and why people are opting out:
[from Black and White and Dead All Over
by Michael Kinsley]
And so, at last, there are two piles of paper: a short one of stuff to read, and a tall one of stuff to throw away. Unfortunately, many people are taking the logic of this process one step further. Instead of buying a paper in order to throw most of it away, they are not buying it in the first place.
But it is hard to believe that there will be room in the economy for delivering news by the Rube Goldberg process described above. That doesn't mean newspapers are toast. After all, they've got the brand names. You gotta trust something called the "Post-Intelligencer" more than something called "Yahoo" or "Google," don't you? No, seriously, don't you? Okay, how old did you say you are?
Aggregation of many, many individual voices a la Google or Yahoo does become the new force to be reckoned with as the old school media titles have lost their luster. Even though Google and Yahoo don't have an editorial policy, per se, they are delivering the info soup that people are slurping up on the web, and are probably the replacement of the old stuff, in the long term.
In the near term, the newspapers continue to decline, losing money, readers, and perhaps their reason for existence. As someone pointed out recently, why do we have this strange combination of junk called a newspaper? Horoscopes, ads, classifieds, legal postings, politics, sports, bridge, and comics? Who wants all that junk? Not me.
One of the powers of the Web is this ability: to select the stuff you want, and drop the rest.
The younger generation have turned away from newsprint, to TV, and now the web. Older folks will continue to expect the dumb 3 pounds of newprint to hit their driveway every morning, until the end of time, but I bet that somewhere in the very near term that will become unaffordable, and will seem as quaint as the milkman leaving the cream for your breakfast on the front step.