posts about or somewhat related to ‘Newspapers’
FJP: Horrendum X Annos. But, yes, also an amazing age for news.
[Was hard] news ever commercial?
Gerald J. Baldasty’s book, The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth Century, makes a case clear as spring water that hard news has almost never been a mass commercial enterprise.
The American newspapers of the 1820s and early 1830s were creatures of political parties, edited by zealots. Essentially propaganda sheets, these newspapers were “devoted to winning elections,” as Baldasty wrote… Without newspapers, top political organizer Martin Van Buren once said, “we might as well hang our harps on willows.”
Political parties supported the papers financially, and when editors strayed from the party line into independence, the parties would dump their newspapers.
— Jack Shafer, Reuters. News Never Made Money, And Is Unlikely To.
The national figures are a little higher. But as Rebecca Dwarka, an 18-year-old senior in the Bronx who works for her student paper, The Dewitt Clinton News, told the Times, “Facebook is the new way of finding out what happened. Nobody wants to actually sit down and read a whole article about it,” which makes a “whole article” sound a little like a long sentence in solitary confinement.
Scott Simon, High School Newspapers: An Endangered Species, NPR.
FJP: And then there are things like Rhode Island’s 2011 anti-bullying law, which banned the use of social networks on school grounds. Here’s the Xtranormal take (video: 3 min 13 sec) on what high school journalism classrooms would look like without Facebook.
A trade group says that newspapers like the New York Times have seen large increases in circulation, but that’s partly because they are allowed to count their readers multiple times. The industry needs to do better. →
The latest circulation gains for the NYT and others came courtesy of the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulations), an industry group composed of advertising agencies and publishers. The group noted that the numbers are not really comparable to the previous year’s results for a number of reasons, including the fact that some newspapers have launched new subscription formats, stopped printing every day and so on.
As Edmund Lee at Bloomberg points out, the AAM survey — which is somewhat ironically locked behind a paywall — also allows publishers to count their readers multiple times, according to rules adopted recently by the group. In other words, newspapers can count someone who reads the newspaper in print, on the web and on their Kindle as three separate readers. But doesn’t this inflate their readership numbers unreasonably? It sure does. The bottom line is that no one really knows what the “real” readership numbers are for newspapers.
Some argue this has always been the case with newspapers, which is true: publishers have routinely engaged in all kinds of shady tricks to boost their circulation — including special discounts for bulk purchases by hotels and airlines and other giveaways, and even dumping large quantities into ravines or pulping them after printing. On top of that, many papers have inflated their readership numbers for years by claiming that each copy gets read by as many as five people, an estimate that borders on the ridiculous.