Why I left newspapers

Urban Tumbleweed by Vonderau Visuals, licensed  under CC BY NC 2.0
Urban Tumbleweed by Vonderau Visuals, licensed under CC BY NC 2.0

I don’t read newspapers. There. I said it.

It’s not that I don’t like newspapers. I love the way their carefully crafted words merge with pictures, illustrations and graphics to tell stories. I’m amazed that large groups of people can work together to essentially produce a short book. Every. Day.

It’s not you, newspapers, it’s me.

I’ve grown as a news consumer over the past couple of decades, and I need someone that understands my modern needs.

I need someone who’s there for me when I call. Your once-a-day visits just don’t cut it anymore. My new partner is always present, in my pocket, ready to for me to read whenever I’m  ready.

I need someone who listens to me. You should have learned to stop sending me  when I repeatedly skipped them on my way to the.

I need someone that tells me when important news breaks. Someone who understands that  fall into that category, while I don’t need to be alerted about . Your delivery trucks never made a special trip to bring me breaking news.

I need someone who brings me information from a deep and wide variety of news organizations and credible blogs. All you gave me were articles written by your staff and a handful of wire services.

I’ve found a platform that fulfills my news-reading needs. My Internet-poweredhas replaced you, and it’s time for us to go our separate ways. To be honest, newspaper, I’ve been using my new platform for years now, while I’ve tossed you into the recycle bin nearly every day.

I’m not saying that you’re a bad product, but I just don’t need you anymore. I wish you well, and I’m sure you’ll continue to make your habitual readers happy.

51 thoughts on “Why I left newspapers

  1. True, Kevin, your cellphone is better at delivering the news on subjects you told it you wanted to read. But what about the “news” you didn’t know you would find interesting? If I spend all day reading stories about NASCAR, or dining, or craft beers or movie reviews delivered to my cellphone, how will I know about state and local politics, school board issues, or how the county just raised our tax multiplier? Fun subjects? No. Important subjects? Yes. You may not think so, but trust me, they impact you and the community in which you live. It is called a general circulation newspaper because the news is “general” – a collection of reports that should be of interest to a broad range of people.

    • Very good points. It takes some conscious effort when you’re setting them up, but with many modern news aggregators like News 360, Pulse, or even HTC’s own Blinkfeed, you can tell it to regularly send you the headlines/blurbs about all the stuff you want to read AND also tell it go feed you the top stories and “important” stuff mixed in.

      That way, you don’t lose that key stuff. News 360, I know for sure, will even send you local news.

    • Hey there, Jim. Thanks for taking the time to read the post.

      News about “important” issues certainly can be read on cellphones and other digital devices. The medium doesn’t exclude or favor any particular subject or area of interest. Many people are interested in articles about important topics. Some read them in print. Others read them on screens. That’s why it is so important that publishers make there content available online.

      One issue I have with “a collection of reports that should be of interest to a broad range of people,” is that the public is at the mercy of a small handful of people to decide what what is of general interest.

      • So your issue is with delivery, not content. This seems soluble for a company whose legacy product is a newspaper.

        • Correct, I prefer news delivered digitally, regardless of content. I do hope that publishers figure out how to thrive as reading habits change. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment.

          • Great post! I tried cancelling our newspapers because I never read them, but my husband couldn’t survive without ink stains on his fingers. I never pick up a paper, other than to move it from the counter to the recycle pile. But, I also don’t want to pay to subscribe to online news, and more and more sources are heading in that direction. We live in a fast paced, crazy world, don’t we? I’ll be following your blog; good stuff.

  2. First- so happy to see you blogging. Second SO HAPPY you are the one to say this.
    I have long felt that Newspaper orgs are like a cult. With charismatic leaders at the helm telling their flock they THEY WERE THE BETTER WAY and that eventually the rest of the world would see that.

    It is time to EVOLVE.
    Glad you are seeing clearly
    and free from the cult. RUN Kevin RUN

    • Thanks, Marcy. It’s great to be back. I’m glad that many newspaper orgs are finally evolving, but it seem so late in the game. I only hope for the best for all the people working at those companies.

  3. No doubt the news business is changing. And newspapers, through their websites, are changing, too. My guess is, much of the important, breaking, semi-local news you are still reading is either a) coming from a newspaper directly, or b) being scraped from a newspaper website.

    • Hi Mark. Thanks for reading.

      I don’t dismiss the value of the work done by the staff at news organizations that have traditionally printed news on paper, and I agree that some of those companies are changing.

      I do visit sites from newspaper companies, but none of the news I read actually comes from a newspaper. I simply don’t pick up that physical product, similar to how I no longer use a record player to listen to music.

  4. Dear Kevin …

    Do you pay for this “other” information … and, if not, how long do you think it will be provided for free — or even exist?

    … Jon

  5. I sense several deep breaths have been in order, Kevin. Though I know little of the day-to-day productions of daily newspaper life, I do know you’ve always been one a bit ahead of the class, (a la SMMOC) 😊 Let freedom reign baby. Evolve away.

  6. Nicely said. I still enjoy the daily paper, but you summed up a common style of reading that newspapers would do well to cater to. … BTW, here’s some breaking news: Marc Ribot and Los Cubanos Postizos at UCLA, Royce Hall, Friday before Thanksgiving.

    • Martin! I can always count on you bringing the REAL important news. Sad admission: I’m not familiar with Marc Ribot or Los Cubanos Postizos. Going to Spotify now. Thanks, man.

  7. I’m there with you, Kevin. NewsPAPERS need to be phased out, which is why the Register’s strategy change with the new ownership was so silly. But news organizations like the Register and other are the ones that produce all that content — usually the best and most informative content. Let the robots route it to you — someone still needs to report it.

  8. “My new partner is always present, in my pocket, ready to for me to read whenever I’m ready.”

    I agree with you, but I will say that newspapers are better about having editors than some online-only publications are :)

    • You’ve got that right, said this editorless blogger. Traditional news organizations are staffed better than most to support the work of writers, illustrators and photographers.

      Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment.

  9. Preach! Personally, I don’t consider it sacrilege that I stopped subscribing to the paper product a long time ago. But I do hope someone learns how to make money off of high-quality journalism very soon, because it is incredibly important.

  10. Out of curiosity, if you “moved on years ago,” then why do you still toss newspapers “into the recycle bin nearly every day”? … If you moved on, presumably, you wouldn’t have newspaper recycling bin tossing to do any more.

    Sounds to me like maybe you didn’t move on as much as you profess here. (NEARLY EVERY DAY)

    • Like many bad relationships, this one ended long before it was formerly dissolved. I finally cancelled my subscription to the Register this month after years of not reading the newspaper on a regular basis. I still received it, I just didn’t read the print product.

      Thank you for reading the post, and taking the time to leave a comment.

  11. I’d be interested in knowing where you are getting all this free news that is there for you anytime you want it — you say it doesn’t originate at newspapers. Do you follow your local news at all? Do you care about your local schools, local city council, local businesses, what your county government is doing, what organizations are doing in your local community? Or do you just read national/international stories? Newspapers are in most cases the sole provider of local content. When people don’t pay for that content, it shrinks and will eventually go away. That is happening. I am watching it happen every day. An ever-smaller number of older newspaper print subscribers are subsidizing the people who read their news only online. This cannot go on forever, and won’t in fact go on for too much longer. I don’t care much what medium people use for their news — read it online or read it in print, fine. But pay for it. It does cost money to produce news.

    • Michelle, thanks for reading. Please help me see where I said that important news doesn’t originate from companies that print newspapers, or where I advocated for free access to news. I only meant to explain how my news consumption habits have changed, and how the printed newspaper format no longer fits the bill for how I consume news. It’s like the music industry. I still listen to music and value the art that musicians produce, but I no longer listen to that music on cassettes or records.

    • Hey Mitch. Thanks for stopping by. I’m grateful for all existing newspaper readers. You support the staff that churns out so many important and useful articles.

  12. So spot on ….. And it is so good to have you blogging again. I, too, consume news in different ways now. I rarely read a printed newspaper, but I do subscribe to various news websites. But also gather news from other non-traditional sites. And I’m always reading on my iPhone or iPad!!!!!!

    Again — so good to have you back!


    • It’s great to be back, Diana. Thanks for reading. I still remember when you and Gman got your first iPads and were wholly consumed by them.

  13. Too bad depth and verification take so much time, huh?

    Hey, let’s all cheer for in-ter-ac-TIV-uh-tee!

    Golly ya gotta love stuff that rhymes with A-D-H-D!

    • Deep and well-verified pieces can be read on digital platforms. Most established American news organizations, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic, publish their articles online. Personally, I don’t need interactivity in most of my news. Words, photos and illustrations suffice. My apologies to readers who have been diagnosed with ADHD or who have children who live with the disorder.

  14. A friend of mine from the news biz said this: “I didn’t leave journalism. Journalism left me.”

  15. Kevin — so nice to see you again! My first love was coffee with newspapers and yet Apple and mobile devices have changed the game for us forever. the shift in consumption habits, just like you say, will not allow us to fully go back to “records” from the good ‘ol days. It’s time to face the fact that a whole new generation will never know newspapers and that medium will fade away in the coming decade(s). Journalists and publishers need to adapt to consumers.

    • And consumers will need to adapt as well. People are so worried about getting things free newswise (both legitimate and off-the-wall opinion-filled stuff) that they won’t know what to do when they do have to pay more for it. Because you’re already paying for it somewhat with your data plan or your Wi-Fi (though it’s not going to the news organizations).

      This is the first time I’ve read one of your blogs, Kevin. Apparently many people enjoy your writing, but as you somewhat admitted, we all can use a good editor. Perhaps a good editor would have suggested to you that you need to make clear the point that it’s not the newspapers’ online product you’ve given up but the paper product itself. That is if that’s what you actually meant. I don’t think you actually meant that. I think you did mean that you also are depending on many more sources than just the newspaper for your news and that you rarely use newspapers (in print or online) for your news. Which is perfectly fine, but let’s just say what you actually mean.

      Also, I think you’re vinyl reference is not too accurate anymore. Don’t ya know vinyl is making a comeback? :)

      • DS, thanks for reading, and welcome to the blog.

        I was referring to the print product and you’re right, I should have made that point more clear. An editor’s worth can never be overstated. In my head, the word newspaper applies to the physical paper just as website refers to a digital product. I try to refer to companies like the New York Times as news organizations with both digital and paper products.

        I’m glad you noted the vinyl comeback. That’s actually why I went with records instead of 8-track tapes. Many people still read newspapers today, but if that usage dwindles, I’m sure there will be a groups of aficionados who appreciate the many things in print that you just can’t replicate online. For example, I still haven’t come across an online presentation that is equivalent to a a double-truck treatment. You just can’t get that big picture view on a small screen.

        Again, thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful comment.

    • Laura, it’s great to “see” you again, too. I don’t envy the task before journalists and publishers, especially since their business has been so dependent on advertising revenue. That is their real challenge. People read so much more news from news orgs, so I don’t see that as much of a problem. The challenge is that companies like Craigslist and Google rule the ad market that was once dominated by news publishers.

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