Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 14, 200910:00 AM

If It Was Really Gone, Would You Really Miss It?

Over the years, one of my more favourite sayings when looking at traditional media and how it is evolving with new media is: "everything is 'with' not 'instead of'." Because it's just an opinion, it's always interesting to see what certain polls and surveys say.

"Nearly half (42%) of Americans say they wouldn't miss reading their local newspaper if it were to shut down, and only 43% say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community 'a lot,' according to research from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press."

That was news yesterday from Marketing Charts in their news item, Local Newspapers Won't be Missed by 42% of Americans.

So, the future of the newspaper industry is not hyper-local and it's not about covering the events that no one else is covering in your local neighbourhood? That seems shocking.

Is your gut reaction that this is because of the Internet? That more and more people are turning to the Internet for all of their locals needs? Or, is it simply because the news moves and happens faster online? Or, is it because of the environment? Meaning, the business of killing trees and transporting the printed word every which way is no longer a reasonable business model?

Turns out it's not what you think.

"When it comes to local news, more people say they get that news from local TV stations than any other source. About two-thirds (68%) say they regularly get local news from TV reports or television station websites, 48% say they regularly get news from local newspapers in print or online, 34% say they get local news regularly from radio and 31% say they get their local news, more generally, from the internet."

Interpreting that data might suggest that it's not about the digital channels as much as it is about the fact that people would rather look, listen or interact if given the choice prior to reading.

There might be an argument to be made that the decline in interest in newspapers and magazines is less about the Internet and much more an issue of overall literacy.

Update: Clay Shirky has an excellent post on his Blog worth reading titled, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.

By Mitch Joel