Wednesday, January 16, 2008

So Why Don't You Read The Paper?

A certain paper of a certain area is apparently asking around town what they can do to attract more readers below the age of 35. I'm curious how many of the people who visit this blog read the paper version of their daily newspaper? I'm both under 35 and a reader of the daily newspaper, but that was a conscious decision I made a little over a year ago that I was going to become a "newspaper reader." (I think I always got the Sunday paper, mostly for the ads).

There was also a benefit that reading the daily paper directly helped me with my job at the time. (I needed to watch trends, find little underreported stories, etc.) Reading the paper version, as opposed to the online, helped me find stories that I missed when I merely browsed the online version.

But part of the reason that I decided that I needed to make myself read the paper, was also an identity issue. I'm a former reporter. I also grew up in a household where breakfast (mostly with my father) was shared over the morning paper and TV news. In my early 20s I dropped the habit of getting the daily paper delivered because I wasn't reading them.

But I suspect that, except in cases where reading a newspaper is a valid career-helping exercise, people either have newspaper habits or they don't. Meaning if you never read your daily newspaper, its not something you are likely to just automatically take up reading, no matter what the content is.

I will say this, when I visit my parents in Ohio and I read the Akron Beacon Journal I thank my lucky stars I at least live in a town with a real paper. Because despite the problem I have with the Washington Post, they are niggling compared to what is wrong with the Akron Beacon Journal.

I don't think people who choose not to read their daily newspaper need to defend themselves. I suspect that if the only reason you are told you need to stay informed is "civic duty" then that's a lousy reason to hang onto a product. Either you are reading the paper because its something you enjoy, or you read it because it provides you with information you can't obtain in other (simpler) means. I would imagine if someone listens to the radio and watches TV news they probably do not feel they are "missing" any major information out there that they need to know about. It's not like they wouldn't know who won the New Hampshire primary or whether the schools were closed. So what exactly are non-readers missing if they don't get a daily paper. I think newspapers need to explain that to the non-readers. Its no longer self-evident.


Anonymous said...

I like the ABJ. Or at least the sports section. Before Terry Pluto left.

Jim in Cleveland

Anonymous said...

I sometimes read the online version.
Does that count?

NewsCat said...

Depends, is that want the publisher wants? I suspect not. I think he wants to know how to grow readership of the hardcopy edition.

Anonymous said...

Not totally true. Ad revenue for online versions of newspapers is up, even if circulation is down. It is costlier to produce a newspaper--you are paying for a lot of overhead. With online papers, the overhead is much lower--no ink, no paper, no delivery, etc. When you pay money to buy a newspaper, you are basically paying for the ink and paper. Time will tell if online versions of papers prove to be solvent.

Jim in Cleveland

Anonymous said...

When I read the ABJ, it's so local and provincial. Generally I don't read physical papers because the environmental impact makes me feel guilty.