Those of us in Radio could see it begin back in the late ’70’s. In the early ’90’s, the trend was obvious. Now, as we enter the last year of the 21st Century’s first decade, the monsters are visibly in pain, trying to hold off the inevitable.
So it is that the daily local newspaper prepares to go the way of the dinosaur.
As an enthusiastic Radio sales rep in the ’70’s, I was shocked one day when a client had to cut our meeting short. He said: “I have to get my ad down to the newspaper before two or it won’t get into tomorrow morning’s paper.”
That’s right: the newspaper sales rep was too lazy to come by the advertiser’s business to pick up his ad–the advertiser was forced to deliver it to the paper!
Those days are long gone.
However, it has been the internet, not Radio or television, that has dealt the death blow to the printed page. Back in the day when our stations were battling with the local paper, we ran a promo line at the end of each newscast: “When you hear it, it’s news. When you read it, it’s history.” Now, people Google the news and get what they want when they want it. Newspaper could never keep up with the immediacy of broadcast news. Today the world wide web offers the virtually instant coverage of broadcast but with infinitely more choices. No longer are consumers limited to one newspaper or a handful of Radio or TV stations.
Generations of consumers were trained to depend on newspapers for their information. With the advent of the internet, the generations of the ’90’s have switched to the instant gratification of the web. By the time the local paper is printed and is on the street, it is “old news”. That “newspaper only” generation is dwindling, and with it the legions of readers that once made that media king.
While Radio and TV will survive, it appears newspaper–in printed form–is quickly going the way of T-Rex. Some newspapers may remain on the ‘net, but the mega-bucks of local revenue the printed page once demanded will soon join the hula hoop and 45-RPM record as little more than a fading memory.