The American Newspaper is Dead and it’s a Good Thing

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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The numbers are bad. Really bad.

Owning a newspaper these days is like owning a white elephant. Except white elephants don’t have their own unions. The AEI numbers tell the tale.

The updated chart above shows annual data from 1950 to 2013 in inflation-adjusted (2013) dollars. The blue line represents total annual print newspaper advertising revenue (for the three categories national, retail, and classified), and appear in the chart as billions of constant 2013 dollars. Newspaper print advertising revenues of just $17.3 billion in 2013 fell to the lowest level of print advertising since the NAA started tracking industry data in 1950. In constant 2013 dollars, advertising revenues last year were $2.7 billion (and 13.5%) below the $20 billion spent in 1950, 62 years ago. Print advertising last year was almost $2 billion below the level of $19.2 billion in 2012, which was the first year that print advertising revenues fell below the 1950 level.

The decline in print newspaper advertising to a 63-year low is pretty amazing by itself, but the sharp decline in recent years is stunning. Newspaper print advertising revenues decreased more than 50% in just the last five years, from $37.6 billion in 2008 to only $17.3 billion last year; and by almost 70% over the last decade, from $56.9 billion in 2003.

That’s the cliff. And the American newspaper is going over it.

A 2011 IBISWorld report on “Dying Industries” identified newspaper publishing as one of ten industries that may be on the verge of extinction in the United States.

But we aren’t done. Cable news is next.

MSNBC is Air America and its staffers know it. They’re not thinking of it as their long term gig, but as their platform for their next gig. CNN is making the transition to infotainment. FOX News will hang on longer.

That doesn’t mean that the Great Booming Voice of Media Liberalism is dead. But it does mean that it is losing much of its authority. Its credibility numbers are poor and it’s increasingly relying on shrillness and volume. That has worked so far. It certainly has helped Obama, but on the internet, relying too much on volume is risky.

The same barriers that entrenched liberal media authority in print and on television and radio are much weaker on the internet. Here they can lose. The media’s adaptation to the internet has largely robbed it of its intellectual and moral authority. Its sites have more money and attract bigger advertisers, but those may only be temporary advantages.

The death of the American newspaper may forecast the death of American liberalism.

  • SoCalMike

    Amen.

  • De Doc

    To hack an old line, “Reports of Liberalism’s death have been greatly exaggerated.” I assure you it is alive and well in the cyber world and beyond.

    • rlc

      Yes, it is in every storyline coming out of Hollywood and in Fiction and Nonfiction and government school textbooks and.. on the web on web sites masquerading as skeptical “explainers”. To hack an old advertising jingle, “Leftism is everywhere you want to be.”
      But it’s nice that their newspaper business has gone kaput.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Sure it’s alive. I’m saying its position of power on the internet is more precarious than it was before.

  • DogmaelJones1

    I can’t recall exactly when I stopped to buy and read a newspaper. It was sometime in the mid-1990s.

  • SoCalMike

    The more I recall reading newspapers over time as I got older, the more I realize the directive to stone false prophets is rooted in wisdom however harsh it might seem by modern standards. Not that I want to see the NY Slimes and WashingtonCompost false prophets stoned.
    I most certainly do NOT.
    Though I totally relate to the impulse to “stone a false prophet” given the scope and magnitude of damage uninformed or misinformed reporters can and have done.
    We are blessed and lucky to have David Horowitz and Daniel Greenfield.
    David is blessed; Daniel is blessed and gifted.

    • garyhope

      And I hope they both have bodyguards, armored vests and men with guns around them. It’s not beyond the left and “liberals” to injury or kill their opponents. The left has killed more people than Hitler ever did. The lefties/communists/socialists and liberals have killed more than 200 million people in the last 100 or so years.

  • wileyvet

    Now what am I going to line my parrot cage with?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      store flyers?

  • TheOrdinaryMan

    The Washington Times went south a bit when Wesley Pruden retired in 2009. But they’ve still got Emily Miller and Jeff Kuhner–still a good paper; more than I can say for most. As for the lib media, I remember the days when there were Democrats you could disagree with–the days of Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Sam Nunn, Zell Miller, and John F. Kennedy; but they’ve been replaced with the likes of Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi, and the newspapers reflect it. Good-bye and good riddance.

  • PDK

    I was a paperboy from age 9 to 15, that was back in 63-69.
    -
    In 1995, I stopped reading the newspaper as it had become a vehicle for liberal ideology, and reading the paper left me feeling angry. Though I had some special regard for the newspaper because delivering it had been a part of my life, I had to give it up, it was no more about the news, it was about liberal, “this is what we want you to think”, ideology and propaganda.
    -
    This phenomenon is what liberalism does. It comes to some form of magnificence, usurps ownership, then transmogrifies it to suit their insanity.
    -
    This is how we Americans lost our white, Founding Fathers free enterprise Republic with liberty to pursue wealth and happiness, and further how we became a socialist democracy.
    -
    To me white liberals and white liberal apostates are the lower than the belly of a snake, scum of the Earth people. They are the immature and the insane.
    -
    The end of the newspaper business will not end liberalism, it is born anew every time a human fails to embrace his personal responsibility to mature or transcend insanity.
    -
    However, once liberalism achieves usurpment of any magnificence, that magnificence is then on a collision course with extinction.
    -
    That includes our white gene pool.
    From the Sanctuary, @ http://the-pdk.blogspot.com/
    I’m PDK: Thank you.

    • Phil Ossiferz Stone

      I was with you right up until you started with the ‘white gene pool’ meme. Die in a fire, maggot.

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Some media outlets are already preparing for this:

    http://i.imgur.com/IsaP3MM.png

  • Atikva

    “The death of the American newspaper
    may forecast the death of American liberalism.”
    From your mouth to God’s ear! We have been lied to, manipulated, indoctrinated relentlessly enough, STOP! We need to breathe away from this noxious atmosphere.

    And it’s not only the newspapers. Radio stations interrupt their broadcasting – or rather, their never ending litanies of ads – every 30 minutes to give us “the news”, i. e. to let Washington DC badger us with more brainwashing, whether or not there are “news” to report. Every 30 minutes. In our cars, our kitchens, our
    bathrooms, it’s pounding in our ears. In the evening, it continues on
    television – more ads, more news, more comments on “the news”, politically-oriented “series” and “shows”, it never stops. I keep shutting off the radio every half-hour, flipping channels at night until I don’t see Mr. Obama’s face on the screen and I end up watching one of my movies. It takes a lot of energy to fend off these invaders of our minds every day of our lives.

    It is indeed disheartening to see how much the Americans have changed since WWII; but it is even more amazing to see that in spite of this relentless indoctrination, many are still able to think clearly and independently. A real miracle.

    • toto2?

      Whining over how all the crap media invades your brain? Well, DO something about it. Sh*tcan the TV,cable/dish Listen to audiobooks in the car. Horse…Water….DRINK!! Everything you want to know is available to read online, a WORLD of information–in blessed silence if you choose.
      You decide, don’t leave it to the spinmeisters to rot your brain.Take control and stop bi*chin’!

  • retired

    The MSM is going down the toilet fast but they are not at the heart of what is wrong in the USA.the MSM are merely the shills & paid scribblers who run interference for the political & financial elites who live off of the rest of us!These elites are vampires who suck the life out of the rest of society.If we were to get to the bottom of our problems we would need to acknowledge that the real problems we face are economic & financial.If you wanted to resolve that problem we would shut down the Central Bankers(the Federal Reserve Bank System).Our economy is teetering on the brink of collapse,the only issue is whether we will have a soft or hard landing!Since the time of FDR we have been a nation of entitlement junkies,when the economy tanks the entitlements will end. When the entitlements end the mobs will hit the streets.Looting & chaos may ensue.
    The great mass of citizens may not care or be interested in political philosophies,which are way over their heads.But they certainly can focus their feeble minds when faced with hunger & personal danger!At this point we will face vast paradigm shifts across the length & breath of our society! Revolutions & great change do not occur when people are politically angry,it happens when economies fail & the public is hungry & out of hope!

  • Randy

    The print media is going the same way as the MSM news outlets.
    Case in point is Meet the Press hosted by David Gregory. He did not ask any hard questions on the Sterling story. How can a person sued multiple times for housing discrimination be given NAACP awards?
    With press malfeasance by people like David Gregory it is no wonder print media and TV is circling down the drain.

  • David

    My local newspaper has two crossword puzzles in it so I still subscribe but other than that is is completely leftist propaganda. I think it really started when the Associated Press decided that AP might better stand for Associated Pravda!

  • itellu3times

    I agree. Of course the dead tree technology is pretty obsolete, but at the same time it sure looks like nobody is even trying. I think a good print newspaper could still work today – as long as it also came with a digital feed. They might never be the inch-thick daily and four-inch thick Sunday that it used to be but we want to save the trees, right?

  • garyhope

    Your 10 to 15 year “guesstimate” is wildly optimistic. I think it’s already happening now. “Liberal” is just another word for intolerant fascist oppression. The “liberals can’t and won’t leave anything or anyone alone and left to their own freedom and choices.