Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Real Question: Will Online News Content Replace Print Media?

Last night (Saturday, 6/26) I had dinner with a friend and client of mine at the 4th Estate Restaurant, at the National Press Club (NPC), in Washington D.C.  The NPC is a wonderful place, if you have an interest in News history, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this historic landmark.

This morning, feeling nostalgic, I grabbed a New York Times, and settled in at the Fairmont Washington Hotel restaurant, for a nice breakfast, and a trip down memory lane.  It was the first time I have read a printed version of a  Sunday paper in several years.

At first glance, the paper seemed pretty much the same as the past.  The layout of news content was not much different.  All my favorite sections were still there.  The one visible distinction was its size, as the paper was much smaller than I remember.

I quickly realized the reason for this change is a significant reduction in advertising inserts.  I also noticed the Times print price of $6.00.  Whoa!!!  Sunday mornings just aren’t what they used to be!

I remember, growing up, the ritual my parents went through every single Sunday.  For about $0.50, and with coffee in hand, both would bury themselves in the Sunday Tribune. (Chicago Tribune)  Usually, they would spend at least a couple of hours getting their news fix.  My mom, of course, would also engage in coupon reconnaissance, hunting for the best deals to equip herself for shopping the following week.

When I married, and started a family, my wife (now ex-wife lol) and I carried on that same tradition for many years.  So, what happened to this routine?  Why is it becoming less prevalent in our culture?  When was the last time you read a (printed) Sunday Paper?

Online News Content is a Real Force

I believe, and the evidence supports it,  we are transitioning from a “print news” society to one that, more and more, seeks their news content online.   In fact, for many of us,  our Sunday mornings now include a new element, social media.  To illustrate this here is a recap of my typical 2010 Sunday morning routine:

  • Wake Up and make Coffee (same as always)
  • Check Facebook … comment on friend’s posts, add at least one of my own.
  • Check Email and respond
  • Open Tweetdeck (Twitter) and check for personal messages, and new posts with Hashtag communities (i.e. #Eventprofs or #SOBCon) — post tweets of own as appropriate.
  • Visit NewsReader (i.e. Blogline or Google Reader) to get caught up on blogs and newsfeeds
  • Write Blog article for McCurry’s corner
  • Eat Breakfast while watching Sunday morning TV Program such as National Geographic Channel or Animal Planet… etc.

It’s not shocking  to hear the Printed News Media companies are struggling.  (many are in bankruptcy)  It’s no wonder there are less ads.  Companies can’t justify the expense, because circulation is so anemic they don’t get the return on their advertising investment.

Many print media firms are wisely reconsidering their business models and entering (or have done so already) the digital realm.  With the uptick of online news options available, and the real-time nature of it, the temptation to bypass the traditional newspaper is just too strong for many consumers.

Besides, with online news, we don’t have to wash ink off our hands anymore :) … you gotta love that.

Question:  How do you spend your Sunday mornings?  Do you read a printed version of a newspaper?  What is your routine for getting your day going?  Does my story resonate with you?  Look forward to your thoughts!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Pelletier June 28, 2010 at 8:58 am

Maybe it’s because I work in print as well as online, but Sundays are still hanging out and reading the newspaper days for me. Sometimes (watch out, heresy coming) I don’t even turn on my computer until late afternoon or even evening–I believe we should all have at least a little unplugged time in our lives to read papers and books, take a walk in the woods with nothing beeping or tweeting, and just reconnect with what’s actually around us. But that’s just me.


Michael M McCurry CMP June 28, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Hi Sue,

Glad you shared your perspective. I really am curious to hear what people will say about this topic. I fully expect that many people, especially boomers, still read newspapers. I guess I am just a freak boomer.

I love to read my content online, and for a lot of reasons.

I now even read books in Kindle version versus a hard cover book. Its just more comfortable for me. Of course my eyesight is not so good these days so reading online is easier than reading small print.

Anyways, thanks for contributing.



Billy Kirsch June 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

Yes, I believe print media will continue to play a smaller role until it eventually goes away. But my generation and those older than me will continue to find sitting down with a real copy of the NY Times a viscerally satisfying experience that’s hard to replace. I read the old fashioned NY Times every morning and peruse our local Tennessean. Then I move on to all the digital formats mentioned in your article Mike. But my children will probably never subscribe to a print version, of anything!


Michael M McCurry CMP June 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Hi Billy,

I’m with you on this one… I think eventually print media will go away. One things for certain the circulation is way down even now.

Like I said to Sue I am sure that many boomers still read their daily newspaper, and thats cool. Neither one of my kids, who are both millenials read anything printed. They are completely digitized. That is the future in my estimation.

Thanks for contributing.



Jay Smethurst June 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm

My wife and I still loyally receive the Sunday paper in Orlando (not much of a paper to begin with), and perhaps once a month we’ll read it. They’ve offered us the other six days per week for free, but we’ve turned it down because we know we just won’t take the time for it.

While I’m a mere 30-something, I do feel like the world is losing something with the demise of newspapers — real investigative journalism. It’s certainly not represented in the TV media, and the demands of rapid publishing in blogworld makes deep investigation more difficult. To be fair, I can only think of a very few instances of real, impactful investigative journalism in newspapers either (other than Watergate). So I suppose the print media hasn’t even been doing a whole lot of what’s supposed to be their strength!

Interesting topic. BTW, the link in your tweet wasn’t operational.



Michael M McCurry CMP June 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

Hi Jay,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for contributing to this discussion.

I checked and the link to this blog is working so not sure what happened in your situation. Sorry for that.

On reflection you are right there is not a lot of online deep investigative reporting being done, and maybe that would be a niche for someone… interesting thought! So I find it interesting that even though you don’t actually read it, you still subscribe to the Orlando paper. I wonder how many other people are doing that.

That is some food for thought… thanks again for posting your comment.



Jay Smethurst June 30, 2010 at 9:02 am

Reading the Sunday paper feels like something that one “should” do. It’s how well-informed people spend the morning, right? Plus my wife likes the Parade magazine and skims through the sales and coupons and whatnot. Abashedly, I often read the comics, even though Calvin and Hobbes was the last one to actually make me laugh.

Having a three-year-old also makes it difficult to luxuriate over a paper. :-)



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