Newspapers Should Really Worry

Imagine what higher-ups at the Post must have thought when focus-group participants declared they wouldn’t accept a Washington Post subscription even if it were free. The main reason (and I’m not making this up): They didn’t like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses.

Don’t think for a minute that young people don’t read. On the contrary, they do, many of them voraciously. But having grown up under the credo that information should be free, they see no reason to pay for news. Instead they access The Washington Post website or surf Google News, where they select from literally thousands of information sources. They receive RSS feeds on their PDAs or visit bloggers whose views mesh with their own. In short, they customize their news-gathering experience in a way a single paper publication could never do. And their hands never get dirty from newsprint. —Adam L. PenenbergNewspapers Should Really Worry  (Wired)

We do get a Sunday paper, mostly because my wife isn’t a digital news junkie like myself. But Google News instantly changed the way I read online news…

I still bookmark the local news and weather pages, and there are specialty news sites devoted to higher education and technology that I check regularly, but I no longer check what CNN or USA Today or The Washington Post thinks is top news. Instead, I check Google News several times a day.

5 thoughts on “Newspapers Should Really Worry

  1. Steve, I find myself reading the comics from the printed page — something I don’t really do online.

    Will, sorry — I guess I’m stuck in my professorial “Rephrase what the student said in the hopes that any distortion will inspire the student to clarify.” Did you mean that the person quoted is confuisng “paying for news” with “buying the physical paper,” since the news itself is availabe online for free (at least temporarily, in the case of WashPost)?

  2. Dennis, I can’t figure it out, are you disagreeing with me? Your comment says almost exactly what I said, so I can’t imagine how you’re disagreeing with me. If you think I quoted it wrong, I quoted it exactly from your quote “They didn’t like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses”…..?

  3. We have a physical paper delivered on Sundays, because I want the crossword puzzle. Even on Sundays, though, I read most of the paper online and end up with a big pile of unread newspaper hanging around the living room–all those Automotive and Fashion sections I don’t care about. Reading online, I can deal with just the parts of the paper I’m actually interested in.

  4. Actually, the top reason that they wouldn’t accept a free subscription to the printed paper was that they didn’t want the clutter of having to deal with the physical paper.

    Apparently, even having to recycle printed pages is a kind of “cost” that puts a barrier between the consumer and the product.

  5. This is one bizarre section you quoted – “The main reason…They didn’t like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses…they (young people) see no reason to pay for news”

    A: The top reason was that they didn’t want newspapers piling up in their houses,
    thus B: they see no reason to pay for news.


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