A few weeks ago I noticed that the Business section was missing form my Sunday paper. I vented by posting a tweet and followed up by sending an email to the business editor of the paper. After a few days I received a well written reply. It stated,
Unfortunately, we have discontinued the Sunday and Monday Business sections. We are not happy about it, but at the end of the day it was an action that had to be taken for the good of the institution. I am sure you are aware that we are on the cusp of technological, cultural and generational forces that are reshaping the information landscape. Add to that the most corrosive financial environment since the Great Depression and you can see the perfect storm that has slammed into the traditional business model for the general circulation newspaper.
First of all, I appreciate him taking time to respond. I enjoy reading actual newspapers and read several of them every day. I recognize that the industry is changing and in deep turmoil, but it seems to me there are lots of other areas to cut besides the Business section. Maybe I'm not a typical reader since my favorite publication is the Wall St. Journal.
My response was, in part...
Thank you for writing me back. I recognize the difficulties all print publications have as people change habits to online. I have followed the Seattle PI switch with interest and you are right, it is a changing world. I know you guys are in a tough spot. I certainly don't have the answers. I can tell you as a technology person in this community I rely on your paper to keep me informed. I will also tell you that dropping Sunday and Monday will cause me to consider my subscription. I encourage you to think of ways to enhance the coverage, more deeply engage readers, pull in more regional information and create new ways to rebuild, not retrench. (Twitter and other social media outlets may hold some answers)
In the end, the business model is flawed given the access to data that people have. Blogs, micro papers and online publications are pulling readership away from print. Classified ads are less effective than ever now that they compete with Craigslist and EBay. Even searching for homes has moved from print to Zillow and other online sites.
At the end of the day I do believe I predicted the future correctly when I wrote, 'Future conversation with my son (circa 2034) "Really Pop? Someone actually 'threw' a PAPER copy of the news on our driveway? No way!".
Too bad, but that is the direction we are heading.