Saturday, August 12, 2006

The End (or Beginning) of News

Maybe it's just me ... but.

News through newspapers now seems almost comically inconsequential. You just get the sense that the reporters are not even trying anymore.

All print news outlets, traditionally the place you looked to get anything non-superficial, are sinking fast due to loss of readership and advertising. They are desperately chasing "readers" or "eyeballs" by becoming even more vapid, superfluous and unnecessary. Since the first sharp decline in newspaper readership in the 1970s, the mantra of newspapers has been to be "more like TV." For the last 30 years newspapers have tried to ape the "success" formula of TV by trying to become as vapid, superfluous and idiotic as TV. It hasn't worked. People already have an information outlet as vapid, superfluous and idiotic as TV. It's called TV. And now there are 500 channels of it instead of just 3.

Newspapers over the past two decades have actually ADOPTED the idea that reporters should phrase their stories (including vocabulary usage) to people with a pre-high school reading level. This also means that stories should be short, and never long. (Because TV has removed peoples' attention span for stories that require more than 1 minute to read, about 300 words). This means that newspapers have "strategically re-geared" their "information product" to ... people who don't really want to read and who really don't like reading news.

What a great marketing concept. Isn't this like a record company marketing its singers to people who don't like to listen to music?

Meanwhile, the people who do like to read, who know how to read, who would like to read real, informative stories can no longer find them in newspapers. Why? Because newspapers have decided their target demographic does not include ... drumroll please ...


Let's shift our product toward the people who never wanted our product anyways.

Let's shift our product away from the people who really do want our product.


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