What’s happening to newspapers?

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Quick — think of the last time you actually read a newspaper.

It’s been a while for most. When I was in New York last weekend, I briefly lifted a New York Times off the stack of free papers provided by our hotel, glanced at the front page, and set it back down. I can’t think of a time in the last year that I actually read past the front page of a newspaper.

Print media is struggling, which led the New Orleans Times-Picayune — the biggest newspaper in the Big Easy — to announce their plans to cut back the number of newspapers they publish every week. New Orleans will no longer have a daily newspaper, an astounding sign of the rapid and vast change of media.

Saints owner Tom Benson wrote a letter to the paper, pleading for them to remain a daily publication, but I can guarantee it will fall on deaf ears. The newspaper, as many other papers are doing, has to undergo cost-cutting, and this move is a sign that they’re really hurting.

Here’s the question I have: If the problem with the Times-Picayune is a lack of people buying newspapers to get their news a day late, why would making the reader wait two days to get the same news be a good idea? Maybe the company is just moving (slowly) to an all-web version of their paper, but why delay the inevitable if they’re not making money off the print version?

It’s sad; if a newspaper as highly-regarded as the Times-Picayune is cutting back, it probably won’t be long until other big-city newspapers suffer the same fate. But at the same time, it’s simple evolution — we live in the Internet age, and people want their news faster than the day after it happened. The world is getting smaller, and it’s a good sign that we’re seeking our news faster than we used to.

My entire professional career has been in web, and I don’t envy those old-school writers that are forced to adjust to a new era. I see writing positions getting cut from a lot of newspapers, and that’s frustrating to me. The stress of constantly worrying about job security has to be the worst part of working in that world.

The Times-Pic isn’t the first publication to announce cutbacks, and they won’t be the last. Change in media isn’t always comfortable, but with newspapers, it’s necessary.

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