Internet could kill local papers

A new Harvard study shows newspapers and television losing news audiences to the internet. The AFP report is at

News audiences are ditching television and newspapers and using the Internet as their main source of information, in a trend that could eventually see the demise of local papers, according to a new study Wednesday.

“As online use has increased, the audiences of older media have declined,” Harvard University professor Thomas Patterson said in a report on the year-long study issued by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

“In the past year alone… newspaper circulation has fallen by three percent, broadcast news has lost a million viewers,” said the study, entitled “Creative Destruction: An Exploratory Look and News on the Internet.”

Meanwhile, the numbers of people using the Internet as a news source have increased — exponentially, in some cases.

Read the entire article at the link above. The news industry as a whole has failed to understand the potential of the internet as the “information superhighway” of Al Gore’s imagination. Newspaper publishers in particular are notoriously slow to adapt to new technology, preferring to assume things are best done the way they’ve been done in the past. Only the Wall Street Journal has been able to make the paid-subscription model work. The rest of the nation’s thousands of newspapers just can’t figure out how to make money to replace falling circulation and advertising revenues. The New York Times just announced it is abandoning its “Times Select” pay-to-read content as it failed to generate the level of interest and income anticipated.

I can just picture some publisher sitting in his office berating a manager for daring to suggest they venture something new and risky. “Son,” he might say, “People were paying for day-old news before you were born, and they’ll keep on paying long after you’re gone. I’ve seen plenty of these new-fangled gimmicks come and go – and I’m still here. Now get the hell out!”

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