As newspapers struggle, readers seem fine with online
There's very little doubt now that gales of "creative destruction" are destroying the newspaper business.Skip to next paragraph
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Plenty of people are worried. Jobs are being lost. Independent watchdogging of government, business, and other institutions is threatened.
Readers, too, are having to come to grips with a world (or at least a city) without newspapers. The Monitor's Alexandra Marks and Bridget Huber talked with a number of them in this article about what the loss of the struggling Boston Globe would mean to them.
Trust in online news
In general, however, readers who already spend time online are not mourning the demise of the print daily. And that may be the most important reason for the crisis in the newspaper business.
Readers don't just settle for online. Increasingly, they appear to favor it. According to a survey conducted by the London-based TNS marketing group, readers now trust the information they get online slightly more than they do news from old-line newspapers:
"Globally, the most trusted information source was friends, with 42% of those surveyed saying that they trusted word-of-mouth recommendations. About an equal number trusted TV news (41%), online news (40%) and newspapers (39%).
"Naturally, there were variations in media trust from country to country, but several patterns emerged.
"Internet users in the US and Canada held similar attitudes toward the media, with the largest differences in the US’s comparative lack of trust in newspapers and TV news."
The report was conducted via the Internet, so you would expect some pro-online bias. But the survey indicates that when people rely on the Web for news they don't feel deprived. They like it.
Which makes sense. Online news is more up-to-date than print. More sources of news are available at the click of a mouse. And almost always there are deeper dives that can be done into subject areas that are briefed online. As newspapers implode, there are any number of possibilities in the online world (an interesting slideshow by Paul Gillin at the grimly named but comprehensive Newspaperdeathwatch.com site outlines some of them here).
Gloomy future for dailies
It is the intrinsic appeal of online news even more than the current economic travails of the newspaper business that seems sure to push more and more newspapers to the brink. The print-and-ink business is a high-cost proposition.
Shedding those costs is a painful process -- and in some cases a process that can't happen without bankruptcy, layoffs, or at all.