Is Print Dead? ‘The Washington Post’ Ponders It

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By: E&P Staff

In a lengthy article titled “Hard News: Daily Papers Face Unprecedented Competition,” Frank Ahrens of The Washington Post on Sunday sketched an exceedingly unpleasant future for the print newspaper as we know it.

Or, as he said in his lead: “The venerable newspaper is in trouble.”

But he noted that the industry is not standing still. Rather, he wrote, it’s “struggling to remake itself.” Some of the efforts: creating new sections, beefing up Web sites, conducting surveys to find out what readers want, spinning off free papers.

Here are few of the more intriguing quotes from interviews for the story:

Steve Lerch, a newspaper advertising buyer for Campbell Mithun of Minneapolis: “Natural societal things are going on. You can’t take a half-hour to read the newspaper and eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. People aren’t eating cereal anymore, either. I know — I have General Mills as a client. People are eating yogurt bars on the way in to work.”

Frank A. Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times: “The baby boomers are going to continue to drive print [sales] for some time. The problem we have are the … 18- to 35-year-olds. They’re not replacing the baby boomers.”

Sports Illustrated President John Squires: “Print is dead. Get over it.”

San Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein: “I could argue pretty forcefully that the free model and the non-newsprint model is what we’re looking at in the future. Things are moving far quicker than we thought a few years ago.”

Post Publisher Boisfeuillet Jones Jr.: “It’s challenging, and the newspaper is adapting and operating more effectively in many areas. If we focus on doing the business of journalism well, the newspaper and Web site should both be able to grow revenues.”

Asked if The Post newspaper could ever regain circulation, Jones said: “In parts of the Washington area, we have had years where we’ve gained a little on the daily side. Overall, though, I don’t know.”

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