I’ve been something of a news junkie all my life. Even when I was in high school I signed up for journalism class and was editorialist for my school newspaper, not that I knew what I was doing of course. But it was a start. Then, when I was a plebe at the Naval Academy I, like others of my class, was assigned by the seniors at my mess table to provide a quick synopsis (from memory) of the headline news from the Washington Post or the Boston Globe every morning at breakfast. There was no CNN then (nor TV sets in the rooms either). We plebes were CNN, we just didn’t know it. It was a odd way to gain an interest, but it worked. Probably improved my reading speed too, as you might imagine.
Thus it was with some interest that I read of the discounted sale of the venerable Boston Globe in this morning’s online news. Twenty years ago it was bought for over a billion dollars and now is being sold to a private billionaire investor for a mere $70 million. This is sad, but of course it’s consistent with the digital times we live in. The Globe’s circulation was a half million in the ’90’s, but of course it has fallen off the cliff since. However, it’s reported that their online subscriptions have now helped it recover to about half that. I think that is the way journalism is going now – a very few large news organizations doing the real reporting and smaller ones struggling to create interest in local news and getting their main income from being conveyers of ads.
That’s what our local paper is doing. The Joplin Globe only occasionally puts a national item on the front page. One friend of mine described it as devolving to “The Big Nickel with obits”, the Big Nickel being a free, classified-only rag which I’m not even sure is being published anymore. I recently sold an electronic item using the online service, craigslist, instead of a newspaper ad and it went smooth as silk. The ad was free, insertion of a photo was a snap, and Craigslist provided online anonymity by relaying email communications. Craigslist for selling mere items is free. They only charge for job and housing ads it seems, and sorting is also very easy. There’s no way newspapers can compete with that.
I still subscribe to USA Today. Some find its articles too short, but I think it’s just right, and I consider their journalistic and editorial standards outstanding. There’s lots of national and international news every day and it provides as much as I’m inclined to absorb, sometimes more. Plus I (compulsively) must have my daily sudoku and crossword fix. And I still must have the Joplin Globe. How else will I know who died?
- Red Sox Owner to Buy Boston Globe for $70 Million (dailyfinance.com)