The photo shows a balding, bespectacled and grey-mustachioed man in a white, button-down shirt with too-short long sleeves, a knotted blue-red rep tie and khaki pants. He sits with shoulders slumped, hand on chin, staring off into space. Affixed to his belt rests some type of cell phone in a leather pouch, with a an honest-to-God land line immediately behind him. His wood office desk lays cluttered with paper and his credenza is stacked with a printer alongside a beige, old-model IBM PC.
His computer screen displays the makings of one of the newspaper's final articles, in Word.
Downstairs, the printing presses are fed by almost-exhausted newsprint rolls. There are no spares on the empty pallets strewn about the warehouse. Paperboys have been laid off and are now shoveling snow to make money. Truckers look for other loads to haul. Newspapermen lament the "old days" and lay blame for the closure at the publisher's feet.
"They didn't do enough to promote the daily," many complain. Perhaps more tellingly, the COO said, "[The paper] was set on a course where it was unable to make the strategic changes to survive."
In stark contrast, the New York Times Business Section "below the fold" (you have to scroll down) website featuring the article includes an advertisement that reads, "How To Promote Your Company Business With A Blog."
The NYT article describes the death of 126-year old Cincinnati Post. The paper dropped its circulation 90%, from over 270,000 to just above 27,000 per day. It's owners, E.W. Scripps publishing, laid off 52 of its newsroom employees, offering only one another job - with a website. the KY Post, covering Northern Kentucky.
Still missing the point, the KY Post lead-in website has a poll asking its readers when the Cincinnati Post shuts down, where you are planning get your news, with four choices: TV, Radio, Internet, Other papers and (perhaps with a bit of "I-told-you-so" for the poll-writer) Nowhere.
While the Internet is an option, may I suggest another painfully obvious outlet for news sources apparently not considered by the Cincinnati Post, Scripps , the KY Post, or the poll-writer?
Blogs. Yes, that's right: blogs. Like this one, and several hundred, if not thousands others, all readily available, for free with a newsreader or RSS aggregator like my favorite, Feed Demon. But it wasn't always like that.
As a kid, I pedaled a bike with a too-big newspaper basket (they specifically made big baskets to hold a route's worth of Sunday newspapers). When I grew up after college, I took a daily, dropped at my doorstep by a kid just like me. Gave him a tip every Christmas, and yelled at him when the paper landed in a puddle.
Now, however, my news comes to me via my morning TV in the bathroom, cell phone on the way to work, home page during the day and feed reader at night. Notice there's no newspaper in there at all. I stopped taking the Wall Street Journal because they couldn't get the addressee right, and everything I needed was online anyway.
After all, you're reading this post, aren't you? It's not in a newspaper. It's on your computer screen.
There's a bellwether moment here, in case you missed it. Newspapers are dying, if not dead-on-arrival. Blogs and the Internet are steadily killing them off, as witnessed by the death of the Cincinnati Post this December 31st. They fought it for years. Indeed, newspapers only belatedly went online, as a last-ditch effort to embrace the Internet.
Too little, too late.
The world of news has gone flat. News is no longer vertical, relying on newspapers for our diet of North East West and South. Instead, we rely on each other. As pamphleteers, just like in the Revolutionary War. We write blogs so niche-oriented, I can find anything I need in a manner of seconds. I don't have to dig around a bunch of newspapers at the bottom of my cat box.
Now, I can just look at my (flat) computer screen.