Let newspapers die
They dropped objectivity and with it credibility
The Pew Research Center reported on November 10, “Newspapers are a critical part of the American news landscape, but they have been hit hard as more and more Americans consume news digitally. The industry’s financial fortunes and subscriber base have been in decline since the mid-2000s, and their website audience traffic has begun to decline as well.”
Let us fact-check that. The total circulation of all newspapers in the United States is 20 million. That is one newspaper sold for every 16 people. Even if 3 people read each newspaper, that means more than 80% of the country does not read a newspaper.
Just 14 years ago circulation was 45 million.
Online readership for the top 50 newspapers topped 13 million in 2020 and slid below 9 million two years later. Perhaps the return of President Trump to the ballot in November will restore the 13 million but even then newspaper circulation in print and online will reach only 33 million.
Pew Research Center also reported, “The total estimated advertising revenue for the newspaper industry in 2022 was $9.8 billion, based on the Center’s analysis of financial statements for publicly traded newspaper companies. This is down 5% from 2021, a slight drop. Total estimated circulation revenue was $11.6 billion, compared with $11.5 billion in 2020.”
A drop of only 5%?
Adjusted for inflation, that’s a big deal.
Total revenues are down from just under $50 billion in 2005 and 2006 to a little more than $20 billion today.
On Thursday, Tucker Carlson released his interview with Putin. Within just a few hours, the interview attracted 100 million views. By Saturday night, it topped 185 million views — which is 7 times the combined circulation of every newspaper in America.
I have no idea what that translates into financially, but at a $3 per 1,000 views (the going rate for Google Ad Sense) that’s $555,000 for one story. At $1 per 1,000, that’s still $185,000.
This was his 73rd story in the past year. That’s a one-off story of course, but it shows reporters and pundits don’t need the New York Times or any other mainstream platform to make a living. They are better off without the baggage both financially and journalistically.
On top of that, Carlson still gets a paycheck from Fox as severance, just as Megyn Kelly did after her departure from NBC. She has a Sirius XM show and a podcast. Most of all, she has an audience and her independence.
They are pikers.
Milan Ordoñez reported, “One of the biggest news to come out of the podcasting world in 2020 was Joe Rogan’s move to Spotify. The longtime UFC analyst signed an exclusive deal with the platform for a staggering $100 million, a move described by Forbes as a ‘tectonic shift’ within the industry.
“Joe Rogan’s Spotify contract will lapse sometime within the year, but he prolonged the partnership by signing a new deal amounting to $250 million. The podcast is no longer exclusive to Spotify, so he can have it available again on other platforms like YouTube, Amazon, and Apple.”
That’s a lot of money. The story said doctors tried to get him canned for spreading misinformation about covid, but it turned out he was right.
Milan Ordoñez’s story came not from a newspaper but from the Bloody Elbow which covers the UFC. It gets 2.2 million views a month — or almost a quarter of the online readership of the entire newspaper industry. The site’s annual revenues are estimated at $10 million to $15 million.
Bloody Elbow’s success matches my experience. When I was blogging, I kept pace with the local newspaper’s online page views.
One reason newspapers are failing to maintain their circulation is their failure to maintain their credibility. Trust in all news organizations fell from 76% in 2016 to 58% in 2021. It is not that the media gets the story wrong; it is that the media seldom admits it was wrong.
Has anyone seen a newspaper correction about the crazy coverage of covid that proved to be wrong, wrong, wrong? Has anyone in the media apologized for dismissing ivermectin as horse medicine? Has anyone admitted the vaccine wasn’t a vaccine? A few news outlets and media personalities have finally said, gee, it really came from a bioweapons lab in Wuhan.
The New York Times and Washington Post still bitterly cling to their Pulitzers for pushing the Russian Hoax. They are the Jussie Smolletts of journalism.
Another reason for the decline is the loss of objectivity — or as ignorant journalists call it “bothsidesism.” Apparently the word objectivity no longer is used in J-school.
Only 44% of journalists believe both sides of the story are worthy of being reported.
76% of grownups believe both sides should be told.
Thus journalists were wrong about the two biggest stories during the Trump presidency: covid and the Russian Hoax. They also were unfair by not treating his side of the story — also known as the truth — the same as it treated the lying Democrat Party’s side.
Nevertheless, journalists who oppose giving both sides of the story complain the most about misinformation. They are activists, not journalists. By not telling both sides, newspapers lose nearly half their audience. Getting back to that poll on all news media, 70% of Republicans trusted the media in 2016. By 2021, that fell to 35%.
Many other factors are at play here. Across the nation there is a loss of the sense of community, which makes local news less important. The competition for delivering the news today is faster and better online.
Also, the stories newspapers cover are dominated by boring reports on the government. Every few months it seems, there is a threat of a federal shutdown.
The narratives have become too predictable. How many times must a Donald Trump be impeached or indicted before he becomes a victim? The fact that he is indicted or sued again turns off his supporters. The fact that he is never convicted of these imaginary crimes disappoints liberal loons to the point where they give up.
For the sake of their survival, newspapers should tell Democrats enough already and give both sides of every story, which would force Democrats to up their game and make cogent arguments for their policies again.
William McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at George W. Bush Presidential Center, insists that newspapers are vital to America. How quaint.
He wrote, “One reason communities as well as our democracy are fraying is because there is so much debate about the facts, whether that is about COVID-19, the January 6th insurrection, or even something local. Without a common understanding about what is happening, it is hard to develop a shared culture.
“Finally, local journalism allows pluralism to take hold. Democracy thrives when people with different viewpoints are able to debate and discuss contrasting views with respect and civility. That cannot begin to happen when people cannot even agree on the facts. Only when you have a common set of facts can you debate what you think those facts mean.
“When pluralism is practiced, we can begin to live together in spite of our differences. That, after all, is a hallmark of a thriving, functioning democracy.”
What debate was there on covid? Anyone who spoke out against social distancing or cloth masks was branded a heretic.
And anyone who does not call the January 6 protest an insurrection is branded an insurrectionist.
And anyone daring to question giving billions in cash and weaponry to Ukraine is branded a traitor.
America will get along just fine without newspapers. Based on circulation in print and online, at least 80% of the nation already gets along without newspapers.