Imagining Life Without A Newspaper

A story that has me second guessing what to do with my life.  Jim Caple:


Tracy Ringolsby has covered baseball for so long that he’s in the Hall of Fame and can remember transmitting stories via Western Union. This spring brought a new experience. When his newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, abruptly stopped publishing last month, he needed to arrange a flight home from Tucson, Ariz. Then he learned his company credit card had been cut off. He wound up paying for his flight, hotel and rental car out of pocket, then submitted the expenses for reimbursement.


The bank refused to accept the check. Twice.


The check eventually cleared, but that story pretty much sums up the current state of newspapers, which makes the U.S. auto industry look robust.


In addition to the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, my former employer, ceased print publication last week after 146 years, laying off around 150 employees and retaining about 20 reporters to maintain a Web-only product, Three of the four newspapers that cover the world-champion Philadelphia Phillies on a daily basis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 24/7 Wall St. speculated that the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Detroit News, Miami Herald and Minneapolis Star Tribune are among 10 papers most likely to fold or publish only online.


And all that has happened just since pitchers and catchers reported for spring training.


I feel awful about the P-I situation. I know one writer who filed a story, then realized it might be the final game he would ever cover, sat in his car and cried. I’ve heard stories about reporters (husband/wife couples who both were thrown out of jobs) that made me want to weep, too. But I also realize the only difference between these employees and the millions of others thrown out of work in the past year is that the newspaper pink slips strike much closer to home for me.


My school of choice, Suffolk University in Boston, costs 43,000 dollars a year.  My question to myself: why pay that to get into a field that makes on average only 42,000 dollars per year?  Why pay that much to get into a field that may be obsolete by the time I have my degree?

Caple brought up quite a few newspapers close too going down but The Philadelphia Daily News, Chicago-Sun Times, New York Daily News, Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, and Cleveland Plain Dealer all could go under within two years.  The Houston Chronicle and Atlanta Journal-Constitution have combined to lay off about 300 workers already.

This is a sad time in American history.  When I am old and grown up and my son asks me what my first job was, I am also going to have to explain to him what a newspaper even is.  Circulation rates are constantly dropping and newspapers could go extinct a lot sooner than you think. 

If you don’t have a subscription to a local newspaper, think about investing in it.  Once newspapers are gone for good they won’t be coming back.  Web content from newspapers won’t be free anymore in the coming years.  I guarantee once you pay your first online subscription your going to miss something people have taken for granted for centuries.

There is no substitute in life for what you read in the morning everyday with your coffee.  Something that’s been a basis of American life for centuries is about to die off in a decade, and that is very sad.





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