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Bye-Bye Newspapers?


When I first started syndicating The Amish Cook column back in 1991, the newspaper industry was still rather robust.  Sure, afternoon newspapers had been dying for years in cities across the USA, but the morning newspapers were still relatively healthy bastions of news, ads, and features.  Enter the internet, throw in a recession, and the newspaper business has now suffered one of it's worst years in memory.   Newspapers are hemorraging readers and advertisers (I always did think the price of a newspaper ad was ridiculously high, even during the robust years).   Newspapers are slashing space, jobs, and anything else in site of their carving knives.   One of the reasons given to me for The Hendricks County Flyer in Indiana chopping The Amish Cook from their paper recently was "space reduction."  They had to shrink the paper to make up for the lost ad revenue.  I had a conversation the other day with an executive who works in the newspaper industry. We were both lamenting the changes sweeping across the business.  I don't know....I'm unsure of what the future holds for newspapers, whether they are dying dinosaurs or whether they'll yet find a way to adapt and reinvent themselves.  So anyone have any thoughts?  Is the Amish Cook's future destined to just be here online?  Do you still read a daily newspaper?  If so, which one - or ones?

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

Interesting discussion. Here's what I think (and I work in media):

1. Newspapers will slim down, both in size and in focus of content, to meet their lowered financial expectations. They will become physically smaller or thinner, and more tightly focused on what is "local", which is their only niche.

2. For columns like The Amish Cook, this is bad news in a traditional sense. Any column that's not Dear Abby or George Will's op/ed will be fighting against every other column for dwindling amounts of space and money. All discretionary columns will suffer losses and for some, the losses will be fatal.

3. Satisfying niche columns such as The Amish Cook should react by changing their business model. The current model is, "I write the column; lots of you newspapers buy it." The new model should depend on selling not the column, but books of recipes and perhaps food grown the Amish way, along with related products. In this environment, the column should be given away for free to as many newspapers and websites (and perhaps even radio stations, as talk segments) as will carry it in exchange for the end-of-column promotion. The sheer number of foodie websites alone would provide plenty of marketing muscle, and most would be glad to have free, professional content.

For what it's worth, and best of luck to you!

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

Oh, I agree with this completely.....I've actually been heading towards this kind of business model....It annoys some people -both editors and readers - to see too much promotional stuff in the column, but that's the "price" for offering the column to newspapers so inexpensively or even free in some cases...

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

That can certainly be a problem, but I'd minimize it this way -- the column that you give away contains only minimal references to advertisers. Perhaps that week's recipe is made with one advertiser's ingredient or using the advertiser's equipment.

But it teases back to the website to get additional new recipes not available in the print column.

On the website, the Amish Cook's blog houses the column but also the additional blog posts, where sponsors' materials can be discussed in depth, and where new recipes can be published.

Don't discount the credibility you have with your audience. Remember that Paul Harvey pitches products every day during his radio newscast, but his audience knows he only pitches products he uses, has tested, and approves of. Never pitch a product you're not 100% behind and you'll do fine.

LuvMaerz's picture
Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why they call it the present."


What sponsors?  That is the exact reason that the column is in the pickle that it is!

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

I started getting the newspaper when I got married at twenty, and nearly forty years later, I still get two daily newspapers delivered to my door -- the Dayton Daily News and the Fairborn Daily Herald, which runs the Amish Cook column.  I know I can access both newspapers online, but I still prefer reading the paper version.

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

So where are the bloggers moaning the loss of medieval monks who put together those marvelous illuminated manuscripts? They died off sometime around the introduction of Gutenberg's moveable type, which made cheap printing of mass copies very cheap. I bet there was a lot of grumbling, moaning and praying in the monasteries about outsourcing of jobs to Germany. Comes now the Internet, which provides an even cheaper way of distributing information than moveable type and presses, and we should be surprised or concerned that newspapers are in deep trouble?
I could also make an argument that newspapers today are greedy monopolies that got very fat on post-World War II advertising trends that sought mass audiences. We should be celebrating the demise of these monopolies, which dictated what their readers read, and served as censors of information. May I remind you there have been troubling cases where reporters or editors bribed news sources to keep certain derogatory information out of the papers. But there is no censorship with the Internet (yet in the U.S., although I expect that will change), and we should celebrate a change that allows Amish Cook to have this blog, and spread his views wider than any newspaper audience can provide.
This is not the first challenge newspapers faced, but it probably fatal for the monopolies. The first challenge came from color TV, which provided mass audiences up-to-date news that afternoon newspapers could not provide. There are very few afternoon newspapers left today.
I do see a role for newspapers in the future as the Internet becomes more widely used, but radically diminished and changed. Newspapers will no longer monopolize the news or ads in a community, and they need to reconcile themselves to these changing conditions. They no longer have a majority of readers in the Gen. X and Gen. Y age groups, and are fast losing upper and middle class males as well. I doubt they can get them back, but they can by being more honest news sources, and less preachers of a new morality. They certainly will be very local, and they will certainly have challenges from the Internet that will keep them on their toes.

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

Edward, welcome to the site!  You make some good points, I don't disagree...newspapers need to reconcile themselves to a reduced role in the future.  They can still be important, but no longer will monopolize the news....I just have to decide what role newspapers will play in The Amish Cook column's future....

jamy's picture
Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

Each morning I receive my newspaper at my door...I like to read it when I take my breakfast.....I read the headlines and when it's interesting I read the article....I like to know what's happening in my country and in the world....It's that way I learn that an amish family moved in Quebec after the attack of the world trade center....I always read from the beginning while my starts from the end....He only reads the sport news  lolll

dcharrison's picture
Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

I read the Hutchinson News and on Sundays I also get the Wichita Eagle.  The last is a remaining link to my step-dad, I think.  He delivered for them for years and always tossed 1 in my driveway as he passed my house.

I get annoyed at the online version of the Hutchinson News - it doesn't have everything or it is terribly hard to find it all there.  And I too read the obits, looking for people I know, etc.  And I think there is just something about having the actual paper in my hands.

Growing up we got the afternoon version of the newspaper, the morning version was sold in newstands and for those who got subscriptions by mail.  The afternoon version was the home delivery version - both put out by the same company.  I can't exactly remember when they went to a morning only version, but do know it was after I was married.  When my kids were growing up, I would read the paper while they got dressed in the mornings, now I toss it in my purse and read it at work between answering phone calls.


Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

I've noticed lately in my newspaper that there's been more ad's...some of the ad's can take up the whole page or half the page.  I mostly read the newspaper to see who's been arrested (I live in a small town..I'm nosey) who died, who got divorced or sent to prison and of course I like to read Dear Abby :)


Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

I get a paper every morning just to have something to read while I drink my coffee ;) I do miss the Kentucky Post, felt it had more Ky news than Enquirer.  Even with a local section in it, seems to have more about Ohio than NKY.  Love the Sunday paper the most due to the coupons and comics!!  Have notice that there's not as many coupons in the paper as there were in the past.  As for the grocery ads, they come to 'our door' every Sunday separate from the paper, so not a need for them in the paper.

The trend I've notice the most is that I can read the same info on the internet sooner than when it is in the paper.  However, my husband is a BIG sports fanatic and wants to read the sports section especially for the local high school teams.

We also get a local newspaper 'The Recorder' because it is free and delivered to my door every Thursday.  Cute way to keep up with what is happening in the county.

Luv, I too read the obit's.  Always scan the names, age and where they were from.  If it looks interesting or I knew them, I'll read the whole thing.  Then before I go on to the next section, say a small prayer for them and their families. 

Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

Well, as someone who works in the newspaper industry those are important observations.  Obituaries, morbid as they may be, are important news items of LOCAL interest.  That is the key to keeping a newspaper relevant is LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL....The New York Times and is not going to run obits of people in Keokuk.....And grocery ads...I'm glad you still read them, they are still the mainstay of newspapers, keeping them afloat, so as long as people are still buying the paper for the grocery ads, that is at least one good sign:)

LuvMaerz's picture
Re: Bye-Bye Newspapers?

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why they call it the present."

I will be honest... anymore, the only thing I really pay attention to are the grocery ads and specials, trying to find the best deals to stock up on.  It seems like the paper just gets stuck in a rut about the type of things that it reports on, and when I do get the paper on Wed to read The Amish Cook, anymore I end up grazing by most of the "top stories."  I do like to keep up on the obituaries, which might sound odd...but working in the healthcare profession I like to keep track of my former patients in that respect.

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