One of my current 'topics of interest' is the publishing industry. I'm quite interested in the whole issue surrounding the future of newspapers (and local news media in general), so naturally the Edmonton Journal (and all the Canwest papers) ran a series on this topic during the 10 days of the year I couldn't read the paper because I was on holidays in Vancouver.
Yesterday's post inspired me to hunt down the series, and here are the links (although I'm not sure if they're permanent links, so read 'em while you can!)
- Too early to write newspaper's obituary: This article gives hope for readers, citing stable and growing readership and profits, while pointing out how the American newspaper situation is different than the Canadian one.
- Newspapers deliver for advertisers: Newspapers are apparently still effective places for companies to advertise, especially when complimented with the other media outlets. The decline in ad revenue is noted to be due to the current economic climate, and not necessarily due to the death of dailies.
- US newspapers under seige: Further going into the difference between the current US/Canadian economic climate, this article mentions that in the US there is more competition for such services, and that Canada has done a better job of marketing print and online companion sites as a partnership, not a replacement.
- Power of printed word has grip on culture: Apparently happy people read papers, and tv/radio/internet mediums need newspapers because that's where all the experienced and trusted journalists are. Where do you think the online sites get their stories?
- Future lies in our ability to change with it: This discusses how the newspaper reflects, and in a sense 'makes' a city, and this is why we need local content. Newspaper will have to evolve, not shrivel up and die.
- Internet not a threat, but opportunity to flourish: Arguing that the internet is complimenting newspapers, not replacing them, this article lists some of the changes going on in the newsroom, and points out why everyone will benefit.
I suppose it's kind of hypocritical to read about the death of newspapers on the online version, but it just goes to show that we need both mediums, and that each has it's place in today's world.
There's also murmurs of local televised newscasts going under (Oh Canwest and CTVglobemedia, what have you done! Why are you messing with my routine!). That makes me so sad, I've been watching the CTV news my whole life - the hosts are like family. My local news station is appealing to people to sign a petition to the Minister of Heritage, in order to save local programming.
Did you know "Current regulations in Canada allow cable and satellite companies to take CTV and ‘A’ programming without compensation. These companies then charge you, the consumer, for the programming they take for free. Most TV subscribers in Canada hold the false belief that part of their basic monthly bills goes to their local TV stations. This isn't true. Television service providers, including cable and satellite companies, are reaping huge profits at the direct expense of local Canadian TV stations that are going out of business. As a consumer, you are at risk of losing local programming options on the dial."
There's also a newspaper article titled Local TV near extinction from the journal that reiterates the situation. Another article, Mainstream media still has life left in it, gives a bit of hope, for the industry. Once again, it's all about growing and changing for the right markets at the right time in the right places. The industry is going to have to reconcile Mainstream Media with New Media. Why does one have to die for the other to survive? The article says it can be done and offers proof of this partnership from the past:
- The office computer was supposed to create the paperless office; instead, office paper consumption has doubled in the past 20 years.
- E-mail was supposed to replace snail mail; the amount of mail going through Canada Post has increased slightly.
- Internet sales have increased; so has the overall square footage of retail and the number of retail stores.
- Cellphones are now ubiquitous, but the number of land-line telephones installed has doubled in the past 20 years.
It also mentions that newpapers are actually making a profit, it's just that the companies have massive amounts of debt (we're in a recession after all). And don't forget that older, retired people like to read newspapers, that's exactly where Canada's demographic is shifting to.
Fortunately one publisher thinks "They may be somewhat different, but we're a long way from disappearing as either news companies or as print operations."
What should you do to support local news? To save these cultural institutions, please buy the paper, watch the broadcasts, sign the petition and send an email or letter to the Minister or your MP...