Tuesday, January 04, 2005

BUFFALO BILL'S DEFUNCT. No one reads the paper anymore, it seems. There is an interesting article by David Kelly of the Jewish World Review at http://jewishworldreview.com/0105/jkelly010405.php3 discussing the decline of newspapers.

Kelly states that “circulation was stagnant, or dropped, at two thirds of all dailies in America, including such biggies as the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, where readership is in free fall. “

Less than 53 percent of Americans now subscribe to a newspaper. Television news is in decline, also. Kelly reports that audiences for the nightly news on ABC, NBC and KBS, formerly known as CBS, have fallen 59 percent since 1969. It is probably even worse, because several newpapers admitted to lying about their subscription numbers. Kelly also points out that it may get worse before it gets better. Senior citizens are the biggest customers of newspapers and TV news. As they die off, they will likely not be replaced.

Some of the decline has simply got to be the convenience of the Internet. Everyone has it. News is there if you want it, and you can pick what you want. You can read about the war and see pictures of it, you can read blogs written by soldiers, or not.

If you prefer, you can skip the war and read about Brittany Spears latest shopping trip or marriage. It's hard to know which she does more. Also on the Internet, you do not have to look at some smug anchorman who thinks he is important, rather than just a blow dried prompter reader.

Then there is the credibility factor. Both TV news and newspapers have been caught in major problems in the last few years. You have Dan Rather using sources he knows are bad to make the President look bad. Bloggers killed him by fact checking the stories. Then he sent the information to the Democrats. I wonder why we would not think you objective, Dano.

Very few reporters are objective. Plus, their subjectivity is weighed against the majority of Americans. They clearly favor liberal causes and candidates. They attack President Bush for everything from global warming to the lack of good programming on their own stations. Their problem is the same as Howard Dean’s anti-war campaign. You cannot be really popular taking really unpopular stands. The answer to that problem is to be scrupulously neutral. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be able to do this. Worse, they are incapable of seeing that they are uncapable.

Another factor is time. Not everyone is available for the evening news, and the newspaper takes a long time to read. The computer, however, is always there. Plus, it doesn't get wet in the yard, end up in the shrubs, or leave black marks on your hands. Unless you never clean your keyboard.

The final factor is news fatigue. It is everywhere. Sometimes, you just don’t want to know anymore. After a day of stressful working, sometimes you do not want to share anyone else’s stress. You would rather go do something fun, or read a book, or go to the pistol range and fire a few rounds. I feel like firing a few rounds right now, but they frown on it here in the hospital. We hear about everything these days. If some guy gets arrested in France for child abuse, it is on the news or in the paper. (No, I really don't think they arrest people for that in France, it was just an example.)

Reporters will have to worry that they will be forced to quit writing about what other people do and go do something themselves.

(P.S. - the title is from the first line of the poem "Buffalo Bill" by e. e. cummings)

Post a Comment