Thursday, March 17, 2011

When Newspapers Lose, We All Win

It always gladdens my heart to hear that the traditional print media are losing revenue to online sources of information:
Newspaper advertising in the US has sunk to a 25-year low, according to the latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). Advertisers spent $25.8bn (£16.1bn) on newspapers' print and digital editions last year, the lowest amount since 1985. On the plus side, online ad revenue rose 10.9% last year, reversing 2009's 11% decline. Though online ad spend comprised roughly 12% of total newspaper revenues last year, it isn't growing fast enough to offset the losses on the traditional print side. After adjusting for inflation, US newspaper advertising now stands at about the same level as nearly 50 years ago.
People turn to online sources because their news are more reliable and their opinions are less scripted and predictable. Take Rachel Maddow, for example. She is very talented and intelligent, but is anybody ever surprised by anything she says? Does anybody ever think, "Wow, I never expected her to say that. What an original way of seeing things"? The same goes for the conservative newsmakers. There is always a party line, and after a few shows or articles, you can write the text that your favorite print or TV journalist will regale you with next week yourself. 

An independent blogger, however, is in a different position. She is free to opine on anything she wants in any way she wants. Having many visitors to one's blog is pleasant, of course, but an independent blogger has no real need to sacrifice quality for quantity. There is no necessity to compete or to worry about ratings. Nobody can fire me from blogging if people stop coming to my blog. As a result, a good blogger can offer content that is a lot more varied, sincere and original.

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