Internet Holdouts Upset At Newspapers For Moving Content Online

from the catch-up-with-the-times dept

Romenesko points us to an article by the Baltimore Sun's public editor about people who don't use the internet. Apparently, they're growing increasingly upset at newspapers that are moving more content online and cutting back on what they include in the print edition. Many newspapers have realized that they can save a lot of money by not printing things like tv listings or stock listings in the actual paper, knowing that it's often much easier for most people to find that information online or through other sources. That's absolutely true, but apparently it's upsetting those who aren't caught up on the latest technology trends and have no interest in finding their way online to check the tv listings. While you can understand how they feel, it's really difficult to feel too much sympathy. Things definitely do change over time, but it's hard to justify newspapers spending so much on newsprint and ink when only a tiny percentage of people actually uses that section of the newspaper. Perhaps there are opportunities for more customized offerings, where those who really want printed copies can have alternative sources of getting them, rather than as part of the daily paper.
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Filed Under: internet holdouts, newspapers


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  • identicon
    PTTG, 11 Sep 2007 @ 10:37pm

    Well...

    I have to disagree with you strongly, here. I am a wired individual, and I personally would have no problem finding any of that information on the tubes, but I live in a rural area, and many people up here either can only get dial-up or are retired, and have neither the inclination nor the need to learn how to use the internet. They are happy to read the paper, however, and to them these "bulk" sections are probably the main reason they buy a subscription. Newspapers are still a relevant medium, and most of their usefulness lies in the regular, localized information that this idea removes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 11 Sep 2007 @ 11:10pm

      Re: Well...

      many people up here either can only get dial-up or are retired, and have neither the inclination nor the need to learn how to use the internet. They are happy to read the paper, however, and to them these "bulk" sections are probably the main reason they buy a subscription. Newspapers are still a relevant medium, and most of their usefulness lies in the regular, localized information that this idea removes.

      Indeed, but that's a small and shrinking audience. Newspapers can do the cost benefit analysis on that and realize that it's better for them to ditch all those costs, even if it means those folks cut off their subscription.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2007 @ 5:29am

        Re: Re: Well...


        Indeed, but that's a small and shrinking audience. Newspapers can do the cost benefit analysis on that and realize that it's better for them to ditch all those costs, even if it means those folks cut off their subscription.


        It's all about when that shrinking audience reaches critical mass and it that audience is too small to provide print newspapers to. Frankly given that net access still isn't as common place as people in urban areas like to believe I don't think that point has not been reached. It seems to me that while print newspapers are on the decline its still just a bit too soon (maybe just a few more years perhaps less) to totally write off the medium.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TKM, 11 Sep 2007 @ 10:50pm

    PTTG

    Fortunately, no one really cares what "retired" people want. If they can't (or won't) update their ways, well... let's just call it natural selection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2007 @ 12:51am

      Re: PTTG

      now I know you don't know what your talking about!
      look at the politicians, they're mostly retired people!!!
      and really there's an ever growing interest in them

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Victor Salazar, 12 Sep 2007 @ 2:28am

        Re: Re: PTTG

        I only see a small number of 'retired' people in politics.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Nismoto, 12 Sep 2007 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re: PTTG

        No, people are not REALLY interested in "retired" politicians; we're just coerced to be.

        Hopefully, we will all find ourselves retired one day. Those retired folk that don't have a need for computers and the internet don't have a need because and old, out-dated, soon-to-be-defunct way of doing what they need still exists.

        I was fine with analog t.v. I don't REALLY have a need for digital t.v. Does it mean that both should be supported till the end of time? No.

        While we're at it, let's get rid of the printed TV Guide.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      dorpus, 12 Sep 2007 @ 2:26am

      Re: PTTG

      What if the majority of the world's population will be "retired" in coming years? When you are retired, would you want young people to have an attitude like that towards you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Nismoto, 12 Sep 2007 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re: PTTG

        What if there were no retired people anymore at all and we just work until we die?

        What if we never had to work ever again and we no longer had a need for money?

        If "if" was a fifth...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GoblinJuice, 12 Sep 2007 @ 5:36am

      Re: PTTG

      Spoken like a youngster. =)

      Re-read your comment when you're 75 and shitting in your diapers.

      For the record: I'm 25.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AMP, 12 Sep 2007 @ 8:24am

      Re: PTTG

      Wow, that is a really dumb-ass comment TKM.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      And by the way..., 12 Sep 2007 @ 8:32am

      Re: PTTG

      ...retired people will soon be the largest demographic in this country. You better care what they want. With their lobbying power, not to mention the financial muscle taht they will be able to flex, they will likely get what they want. But go ahead and maintain that miopic point of view....I am sure that it will serve you well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SteelBeach, 12 Sep 2007 @ 2:25am

    So what?

    Last I checked it is now the 21st Century...
    I am still appalled at the amount of paper our supposedly virtual society consumes.Remeber when they said personal computers would eliminate paper and then they actually doubled it's usage?
    Screw 'em, I say.

    My cable internet connection is still cheaper than a monthly subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Not true..., 12 Sep 2007 @ 2:53am

    Already noticed.

    The problem here is I do a lot of traveling on business and moving around like I do its easier to have a newspaper in my hands to read when I can then to be breaking out the computer each and every time I get a few seconds it in my travels.

    And your cable connection isn't cheaper then a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and if it is you're on dial-up and you need to be retired ol' man!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Not true..., 12 Sep 2007 @ 2:53am

    Already noticed.

    The problem here is I do a lot of traveling on business and moving around like I do its easier to have a newspaper in my hands to read when I can then to be breaking out the computer each and every time I get a few seconds it in my travels.

    And your cable connection isn't cheaper then a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and if it is you're on dial-up and you need to be retired ol' man!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David King, 12 Sep 2007 @ 4:23am

    In your mail box, every week....

    This is kind of why they print TV Guide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2007 @ 11:04am

      Re: In your mail box, every week....

      EXCEPT, that TV Guide has devolved into a People type magazine for TV. They got rid of the detailed daytime and late night listings which now only show up as generic placeholders. That is why I cancelled my subscription. On the other hand ... now I don't watch as much TV, I spend more time on the web. :)
      This brings up an interesting question: How much of the effect of seeing people go to the web is because print media is not printing, but, instead putting their wares on the web? Self fullfilling prophesy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    really, 12 Sep 2007 @ 4:26am

    dialup?

    what is that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    comboman, 12 Sep 2007 @ 4:43am

    extending the argument...

    Extending the argument, if you can get stock prices and TV listings on-line then you can get your news and sports on-line too. Then the newspapers could save even more money by not printing anything. Newspapers are clearly purchased by that portion of the public that prefers to consume their information in printed form and publishers would do well not to piss them off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 12 Sep 2007 @ 9:44am

      Re: extending the argument...

      Extending the argument, if you can get stock prices and TV listings on-line then you can get your news and sports on-line too. Then the newspapers could save even more money by not printing anything. Newspapers are clearly purchased by that portion of the public that prefers to consume their information in printed form and publishers would do well not to piss them off.

      Indeed, but you seem to be missing the point of what I wrote. The number of folks who rely on newspapers for news and sports is still much higher than those who use it for stock and tv listings. That's an activity that has moved much more to the web.

      Understanding the difference isn't that complicated.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Charlie on the PA Turnpike, 12 Sep 2007 @ 5:45am

    The Ice Man and the Newspaper

    I, too, am a rural dweller. And I've past the age of 25 nearly 20 years ago.

    My grandfather knew his ice man. He knew his milk man, too. Yep, at first a horse drawn wagon, later by truck, deliveries of ice were once a very common site.

    Over time, of course, people started buying themselves those fancy, electric refrigerators. Once they had them, they had no need for ice deliveries.

    Now there were likely some who had no inclination of having refrigerators in their home, either because of cost or preference. But the ice man is now gone. And in most areas, so are the milk men.

    Time moves forward, and so does technology and progress (if we're lucky).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    RandomThoughts, 12 Sep 2007 @ 5:58am

    Indeed, but that's a small and shrinking audience

    Mike, small and shrinking? Yet you make it sound like broadband offerings are few and far between when you talk about competition in the telecom industry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 12 Sep 2007 @ 9:43am

      Re:

      Mike, small and shrinking? Yet you make it sound like broadband offerings are few and far between when you talk about competition in the telecom industry.

      No, you seem to have misread my argument. Broadband *competition* is rare. But most people do have access to at least one provider. It's factual that more than half the country now has broadband and that a large % of the rest have some internet access.

      The small and shrinking audience are those who only rely on newspapers for their stock info.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alan smithee, 12 Sep 2007 @ 6:14am

    the real issue

    The real issue is that newspapers are giving the finger to consumers (subscribers) that have supported them throgh years and years. Now they're saying that doesn't count and if they should just go onlne. Well, look at newspaper revenues and see where most of it comes from. It comes from the print side and not from the Internet. True, revenu growth from the Internet is outpacing the print revenue, but that's just growth. PRINT is still supporting online. If it wasn't for print, there would not be any online content. That may change in the future, but for now, papers need to wake up and realize that their bread and butter still comes from the revenue in the ads in the print product.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dazcon5, 12 Sep 2007 @ 7:32am

    analog

    I still enjoy sitting at my table with a hot cup O' joe and being able to read the paper, but I only look for local content that doesn't usually get 'net coverage. Everything else I get online. It is an unfortunate business decision in an attmept to cut costs and create profit. Simple answer is vote with your wallet and take your subscription dollars elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2007 @ 7:56am

    is it wise to spend say 70% of your cost on only 30% of your consumer base?

    i mean if it costs 100 bucks to print that extra stuff, but they are only bringing in 30 bucks in subscriptions, they will actually come out ahead in the profit end. makes a good economic choice.

    but then there is something to be said about convience of a paper. i.e. you can read it anywhere. at any time with only a few basic needs... well the paper itself, and light to see it. with a computer you'd need some type of power source, plus an internet connection.. and a place to rest the computer, because it's hard trying to hold a laptop with one hand.

    and as for the argument of fearing change....idk. how receptive will the younger generation be once they get older?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brad Eleven, 12 Sep 2007 @ 8:19am

    missing real problem

    I get the cost justification arguments from the publishers' point of view, and the paper waste from the green point of view. I really do.

    I think the problem is that newspapers--and most media outlets--are now owned by people interested only in the bottom line. Content is irrelevant; the only concern is for advertising rates, which are driven by ratings and focus group results.

    Also, why is it that we don't recycle newspaper? That's the only 1-for-1 material that I know of, e.g., you can get almost all of it back for use in another newspaper printing.

    It's a reasonable expectation to have a newspaper in one's community--or at least it was. Corporate interests are obviating everyone else's interests, i.e., impossible not to notice because they're in the way.

    The predictable future is that multinational and global corporations will explicitly run the world, instead of the stealthy approach they presently employ. I say, let's be up front about it--then we have a much better shot at holding them accountable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Woadan, 12 Sep 2007 @ 8:50am

    Older people don't tend to adjust as well with changes. And they also tend to be on a fixed income. (I am, too, but I'm not yet old enough to qualify for any "old person" bennies just yet.) They probably cannot afford to buy a TV Guide or some similar magazine, and that could be part of why there is such an outcry.

    I wouldn't be surprised if more older people use newspapers as heir primary source of information. With that in mind, perhaps the newspapers have focused their efforts on the wrong pieces going online.

    At any rate, just because technology is around doesn't mean it is the best or only solution. Maybe moving something else online would be better. And maybe not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Beau, 12 Sep 2007 @ 8:53am

    Newspapers have every right to cut costs by moving information out of the print editions and every right to raise revenue by providing the same information in appropriately priced supplements.

    Subscribers have every right to cancel their subscriptions when the information they want is no longer available.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Elvis Presley, 12 Sep 2007 @ 9:00am

    If the newspapers want to cut costs for short term profit by cutting out what people want ... then they are just committing long term suicide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brad, 12 Sep 2007 @ 10:06am

    Internet? Bah!

    You'll never find me on the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brutus Beefcake, 12 Sep 2007 @ 10:15am

    I'm also outraged!

    All the damn maps show the earth as round.

    IT IS FLAT I TELL YA!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    K__G, 12 Sep 2007 @ 3:01pm

    Maybe if more than 1/2 of the revenue base (classified ads, Real Estate and Job listings) weren't disappearing to the web and never coming back, there would be plenty money still around for super niche non-ad supported content like daily stock listings. If your investment goals so short term-ish, the odds are day old stock listings are too stale to be any value to you. Weekly tables printed on Sunday will do the job for most long term investors. The sunday paper has a TV guide for the whole week, so why such up another page of non-ad supported content reprinting the other days of the week? There are dozens of reasons why people subscribe to a newspaper...given the economic reality of falling revenue and rising costs, some things have to go. Content that a vague number of people may be occasionally interested in and that does not have much/if any advertiser support are likely candidates to be dropped. If people are only subscribing for the TV guide or stock quotes, those people are pretty much worthless customers (from an advertising point of view) and its only a matter of time before they defect to other sources....better to lose them now rather than lose even more money trying to keep them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yo, 12 Sep 2007 @ 3:08pm

    who cares

    Retirement? What does that have to do with internet usage? If anything, I will use the internet much more once I'm retired.

    If you don't want to do the very basics (get a crappy computer & internet access... or go to the library) then you have no room to complain.

    The world is changing with or without you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lottie B, 13 Sep 2007 @ 2:16am

    I find the comments about online vs print TV listings very interesting - my experience is that people are completely changing their viewing habits; with so much content (and junk) out there, people are deciding less to 'watch TV that night' and see what's on, and more to pinpoint the programmes they like and find out when they're on.

    I'm part of a team from LocateTV, a TV and film search site in prviate beta aiming to target this gap - less a TV Guide style listings page but allowing people to search for a programme or actor they like and it will then tell you where and when it is on, on TV, online or DVD, region-specific to the user.

    Do you think this is the way forward or am I talking nonsense?!! Have your viewing habits changed with the increase in both content and the media where it is held?

    If anyone wants an invite to the private beta send me a mail (lottie@locatetvblog.com) so you can see if you think this is a genius idea or... a less than genius idea!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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