October 02, 2008

Random Thoughts on Writing: Newspapers

Having a journalism degree and dozens of years under my belt writing for newspapers, I admit a special affinity for news on the printed page. Yes, I read stuff online, but I still like to sit down with a newspaper open at lunch or dinner.

Of course, most people's reading habits have spelled a death knell for the printed page. Call it naive, but I remember the shock I felt when someone I'd sent a box to had no newspaper around to use as wrapping and padding- not one page. She confessed to reading only online. The printed page is still the first choice I think for most people over 50 as lifelong habits are hard to break, but for many younger readers, unless their parents were regular newspaper readers, the daily paper just isn't that important.

I would hope, though, that those looking for news are at least perusing papers online and not depending on TV network news only. With sound bites and bias, there's a lot overlooked and a lot left unsaid.

Newspapers have been trying to change their style - trying to get hipper, shorter, a la USA Today, in hopes of gaining new readers, keeping what they have - and cutting costs. Shorter stories, less newsprint. But the latest economy crunch, combined with the escalating costs in newsprint, has publishers hanging on by their fingernails.

Papers are bleeding readers and the changes they often make to try to hang on aren't always for the better. Some go the diet route, making the paper trimmer in pages and leaner in content. The result? A paper that has much less to read, and fewer pages. I know they're trying to stay in business, but the end result can make that 75 cents even harder to spend if you think you're getting even less for your money.

** Your Turn: Do you read the newspaper in print or online? Do/did you read in print? What made you change (or not change your reading habits?)

6 comments:

  1. I read online mostly. About the only time I look through a print paper is when my husband comes home from a trip with the papers the hotel gives out.

    My computer has an automatic link to the BBC Headlines and I check those every day. I follow the tweets of CNN and sometimes click those.

    I usually try to catch the evening national news. We can't get cable at my house, so if I want to see something national, the network news is it for me.

    I used to read the paper every day, now I don't. And I don't think I'm all that unusual.

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  2. I read both. I began reading on-line for one simple reason: it was one more cool thing to do with my internet capability. For in-depth stories, I still go to my paper version - it just seems easier for my comprehension. Plus, I like my newspaper for the crossword puzzle and sudoku (they say it keeps my mind sharp).

    I write a weekly column for my local newspaper (What a Day, in the Placentia News-Times), and I used to save the tear sheets from the paper. Now I print it from the e-version, because it's more convenient.

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  3. Ah but Gayle you're sentimental too. ha! Yeah I also print some stories online if I missed the print version...

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  4. Hi Chris,
    I just answered your tag at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    with my 6 Book Things About Myself.

    Thanks for the tag.

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  5. I read online unless I pick up a local paper like the REader from a kiosk on my way to the Muni. It's how I slowly prep myself for working...

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  6. I read the local paper, the Daily Herald, each morning during breakfast. I don't buy the other papers. If something happens during the day, I look online there or at the Tribune or Sun Times websites.

    Morgan Mandel
    www.morganmandel.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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