The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper

Kish and I don’t subscribe to our local daily newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, any more and have not subscribed for some time now.  That probably seems strange for a married couple who were both journalism majors in college and who love good reporting, but the reason for our decision was simple — we got to the point where we never really read the newspaper anymore.  It typically was delivered to the house after we had left for work in the morning, and by the time we got home from work at night the morning news was old news.  We’d read the news from the morning hours before, and the internet allowed us to get totally up-to-the-minute news with a few keystrokes.  

Because I don’t get the Dispatch anymore I was surprised when I picked up the firm’s copy recently. It seems so small, both in its dimensions and in its bulk.  The front section and the local news section have shrunk considerably.  It appears that the paper is more focused on sports coverage and content — like articles on food preparation, comics, how-to and popular culture features, and opinion columns — that have more staying power than a transitory news item that could become cold in the blink of an eye.  No doubt this is an economic response to shriveled subscriptions and dropping ad revenues as well as a reflection of what readership surveys are saying.  My guess is that the Dispatch is no different from every other daily newspaper in America in this regard.

The days of a thick newspaper landing on your doorstep with a satisfying thwack, and when a leisurely review of the newspaper would take a good chunk of Sunday morning, are long gone, never to return.  The only question is whether metropolitan daily newspapers, delivered in paper form, will survive in any form, or will soon go the way of the buggy whip.  Unfortunately, if I had to bet, I think the latter scenario is more likely.

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