Why Newspapers are Doomed

Since I was a little boy, I loved getting up every morning and reading the newspaper. For the past 30+ years, I have been in the habit of buying a local paper, or when on vacation, USA Today or The Boston Globe or whatever.

During the last year or so, however, like many of you, I find myself buying the paper less and less.  And then I got to thinking. And then I did some research. Here are some random facts and thoughts:

  1. Every year for the last 17 years, newspaper sales have gone down nationally, even though our population has pierced the 300 million mark.  17 years ago, the internet was not a common household term, and gave it no competition.
  2. Newspaper ad space keeps going up, every single year, making the cost versus benefit counter productive.  A full page in the Sunday Times of Trenton for a Realtor is approximately $7,000.  Ouch.
  3. Newspaper ads typically account for about 3% of all inquiries into a real estate office. Even less turn into sales.  Why? 1) Too much clutter.  2) Its not how people shop anymore. 3) Extremely limited information. 4) 80+% of all buyers now start their home search on the web.
  4. I have less time now than ever to sit down and read all of the paper, making it a waste of time to buy it in the first place.  Then when I do read it, the murders, rapes, child abandonment stories and the like are not how I prefer to begin my day. On the web, I can pick and choose which stories I am interested in. FREE.
  5. Everything in the newspaper can be had, for free, on the internet and TV.  With color photos, video, charts, graphs, etc.  In real estate, a buyer can visit my website and get the address of the property, a virtual tour, photos, learn of the next open house, see the floor plan…you get the idea.
  6. I don’t trust (all) people who write articles in the newspaper.  Have you ever read an article about something you witnessed, like a sporting event, or in your area of expertise?  Enough said.
  7. Many of us, but especially Generation X&Y, want to be stimulated with video, color, interactivity.  Not newsprint.
  8. Newspapers, while recycled very efficiently, still are the #1 contributor to landfills.
  9. Most newspapers are known for making numerous mistakes to Realtor ad copy. Once printed, too late.
  10. Most people at newspapers seem to have arrogance, knowing they are one of the only games in town. Trudy Holzbaur at The Times of Trenton is the rare exception.

I fully expect 90% of newspapers to be extinct within 7 years.  The NY Times, LA Times, USA Today and some tiny independents will somehow figure out how to stay relevant and profitable.


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