Tough time for newspapers 

Big-city daily newspapers are having a tough time these days largely because people aren’t buying their papers every day. Only four of the 20 biggest papers have gained in circulation, and the gains were small, like the 2,600 new readers the New York Times got in the first six months of the year.

The Los Angeles Times lost 62,000 readers, Chicago Tribune 40,000, San Francisco Chronicle 30,000, Houston Chronicle 21,000, Washington Post 20,000, etc.

What’s the reason? The main one is that young people aren’t reading daily newspapers like they used to. They are watching TV, listening to the radio and reading the Internet for news, thinking, I guess, that they are getting all the information they need.

Also many young people get a kick out of listening to the opinionated bloggers on the radio or reading them on the Internet, thinking, I guess, that these people are in the know and on their side. The truth is that most of them are either somber conservatives or liberals who simply don’t have anything else to do.

You can’t compare a blogger to a journalist … a person who works all day to find out what is really happening and then Most newspapers have several editorial News about newspapers is scary. The Wall Street Journal is narrowing its pages by three inches in order to save the cost of paper ... Many big stores that advertise heavily in newspapers are consolidating, which means fewer ads in many newspapers ... Popular Internet outfits like Google, Yahoo and eBay are considering starting to sell classified ads, which provide much of the income of big daily papers ... To keep their big advertisers, some papers (the New York Times, for example) are accommodating them with faint color ads printed behind stock price quotations, sports results, or movie listings for stores that buy a small, regular ad across the bottom of the page. Old newspapermen like me would call that an ethical mistake between news and advertising.

We like to read newspapers owned by people in our town, or at least our state, rather than the owner of a nationwide chain that could become so powerful he could tell millions of Americans how to think and vote. Arkansas has about 140 newspapers, and almost all of them are locally owned, but now 37 belong to companies in 11 different states. Remember that we had two good daily newspapers in Little Rock 14 years ago, and Gannett, the chain that had bought the Arkansas Gazette, wasn’t making all the money it wanted and sold out to the Arkansas Democrat.

But it’s really the school teachers and the young adults who can keep newspapers from going out of business. Teachers have to teach them how important it is to be in a free country, and parents need to do what our mothers and fathers did — subscribe to have a newspaper delivered to their home every day.

Because I was driving back from a trip Saturday, I had to listen to Paul Eells doing his usual fine description of the sad Arkansas-South Carolina game on the radio rather than watching it on TV at home. But his sound engineer was piping in the sound of the crowd and the band so loudly that half the time I couldn’t hear what he was saying. Also, his three partners talked too much. Eells should fix this. The poor Razorbacks might lose their last three games, but we still want to listen.


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