Saturday, October 3, 2009

Governor Daniels Makes a Pitch for Newspapers

The Associated Press reports that Governor Mitch Daniels is featured in a marketing campaign undertaken on behalf of the newspaper industry:
The effort by the Hoosier State Press Association emphasizes the importance of newspapers despite a decades-long trend of losing readers and advertisers and now reduced operations in a poor economy.

Daniels says in a promotional advertisement sent to newspapers across the state that newspapers are best equipped to be a government watchdog and are the most factually reliable news medium.

The campaign is called “Newspapers Still Deliver” and begins on Sunday. It includes testimonials from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie and Angelo Pizzo, author of “Hoosiers” and “Rudy.”
I agree that newspapers play a vital role in being a government watchdog. In that regard, the Indianapolis Star has been a dismal failure the past few years. So many times, it has been blogs or publications like the Indianapolis Business Journal investigating matters and scooping the newspapers. Even television news reports, which so often simply put a visual spin on what newspapers reported, are providing lengthy investigative pieces on subjects the local newspapers have chosen not to cover.

Instead of cutting back on reporting on local events, the Indianapolis Star and other newspapers need to be increasing the number of local stories and the reporters who cover them. People will buy the Indianapolis Star if it covers local events. They're not going to buy the Star if it consists of nothing more than AP articles, which is pretty much what the Star has become of late.

Obviously the reason why newspapers are cutting back on local stories is to save money on the cost of delivering their product. There is another way to save on those expenses - begin the inevitable phasing out of home delivery. While older folks like myself enjoy a printed version of the newspaper to read as I enjoy my morning coffee, that is not the future. The future is content delivered via the computer. That content can be delivered through a website or via a system that allows a reader to download various of the sections of the newspaper to be printed out for easier reading. There would be enormous savings to newspapers if they could jettison the daily newspaper home delivery system that is so labor-intensive and so costly to maintain.

I'm not one of those bloggers who celebrates the demise of the newspaper industry. For centuries, newspapers have played a critical role in keeping an eye on government and informing the public about local events. But newspapers are nearly a decade into the 21st century and are still trying to survive utilizing a delivery method that originated in the 19th century if not earlier. It will not work. The future is here. The newspaper industry needs to embrace it.

No comments: