Monday, September 19, 2005
Two opposing arguments for declining circulations
Two articles from "the world's first blog media company," Corante (named after what is believed to be the first English-language newspaper), make some observations about declining newspaper circulations. The first quotes an interview with internet journalism pioneer Bob Cauthorn, who faults large newspaper corporations, not the "concept" of journalism or newspapers, as the reason for declining circulations: "(Newspaper companies) are incredibly removed from the life of the community around it. It is insular, it takes place over the phone. It does not pay attention to reader habits." Cauthorn absolves the Internet as the source of newspaper woes stating that circulations were already dropping fifteen years before the Internet became a consumer medium.
In the second article, journalist and academic Ben Compaine refutes these arguments, going back even further in time to claim that technologies have indeed played a major role in circulation declines. "In 1930, there were 1.3 newspapers sold per household...By 1940 - by the time radio was ubiquitous - it had fallen under 1.2 per household...by 1980 is wzs .77, in 1990, .67 and in 2003 under .50." Another reason why sliding circulations can't be completely blamed on high-profit-demanding bosses is that today's newspaper journalism is better than ever. Instead, Compaine says that circulation decline is "part of the organic life of the media. There is far more competition for everyone's money and attention. Publishers, journalists and the rest of us must learn to live with it. The trends may be slowed by tweaking with the newspaper's format or content, but the overall direction is not."
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