Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Suggest a Topic—And Content Flows to It

I learned about the death of the American newspaper early in my life. I was all of 16, a gawky office boy at The Morning Call in Paterson, New Jersey, when I was caught inside the obituary of an institution: The daily that I had carried on my back as a newspaper boy, the paper where my ambition to be a journalist was born, was being closed. I remember that day in December 1969 as if it were yesterday. Teary-eyed, I walked through the sea of wooden desks and metal filing cabinets and into the chilly night. It was an awakening to see the reporters openly crying and consoling each other.

Newspapers die hard—and the obituaries over the next few years are likely to make us think of massive casualties in a war. Strip out the classified business, and you’ll find that magazines face many of the same problems as newspapers: ever rising paper (and for us even worse postage) costs, the swift migration of advertising from print to Web, the inability of online revenues to offset the decline of print ads, and often declining readership. Yet as bad as the newspaper business has fared to date, some observers say magazines are even further behind the transition.

To read more of this essay in Nieman Reports, click here.

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