In a recent essay in Commentary, Joseph Epstein asks, “Are Newspapers Doomed?”, and proceeds to list a whole host of reasons why things are looking grim for the Fourth Estate these days.
As does this post by Mark Tapscott:
Judging by the results of the non-scientific survey that has been running in the right-hand column of this blog for several weeks, it looks like The New York Times will be the big circulation loser for 2006 with 46 percent of the respondents checking the Gotham paper’s box.
Second is The Los Angeles Times at 22 percent , while running third is The Philadelphia Inquirer at 11 percent. Biggest surprise is the low number of survey takers giving the nod to The San Francisco Chronicle, which lost an amazing 16 percent of its subscribers last year.
My personal pick is the Knight-Ridder Newspapers-owned Inquirer, which, along with the Philadelphia Daily News, has suffered staggering circulation, advertising and editorial staff losses for several years. The weakness of these two dailies is a major reason why Knight-Ridder is viewed by many industry observers as a prime takeover target.
Of course, there’s one very obvious cost-cutting method available to them, but it’ll take activating the industry’s equivalent of the Doomsday Machine: take the paper out of the newspaper business.