Thursday, May 14, 2009

Newspapers are Dying Because They are Inefficient

I was listening to Iowa Public Radio as I was out getting lunch yesterday. The show on was Talk @12 and Steffen Schmidt and Arne Arneson were on talking about politics.

They were discussing the decline of newspapers. Steffen Schmidt told a statistic that something like 80% of 18-29 year olds don't think newspapers will be around in 10 years. Arne Arneson then told a story of her father, a social studies teacher, giving current events quizes each week and making his students read the newspaper and follow the news. Arneson then said it was a shame people don't value information anymore.

To me this was a glaring example of the generation gap. Newspapers aren't dying because people no longer value information. Newspapers are dying because they are an inefficient way to distribute information.

The other weekend, I wondered how busy the opening day of the Des Moines farmer's market was. So on that Saturday afternoon, I went to the Des Moines Register's website and found pictures and a small writeup about the farmer's market (The Register's online version provides great local information and should be a model of how newspapers can tranistion into the digital age). The next day I went to dinner at my grandparents and skimmed through the dead tree version of the Register to see the same pictures I saw the day before and pretty much the same story.

Why should I wait until the morning to read day old information in the newspaper when I can get online, do a search, and read it now?

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