Are we about to see a bastion of our country go 100% digital?

By Gregory Moore

The front page of the Boston Globe as printed on Monday, May 4, 2009.

The front page of the Boston Globe as printed on Monday, May 4, 2009.

The demise of the newspaper as we know it is on the endangered species list.

No you won’t see them in the African grasslands running freely like a herd of gazelles but you will definitely feel the omission from your daily life as some of the biggest names in the industry is finding it harder and harder to not only stay profitable but also competitive.

The same can be true for your weekly newspaper or periodical as well.

Nobody is safe and in this economy there is a certainty that we will be reading about closures that are not only shocking but unfathomable.

Over the weekend the Boston Globe, which is owned by the Times Co., announced that it may have to shut its doors in 60 days if it cannot come to concession terms with several unions.

This isn’t the first time that a major newspaper has made this threat. Just earlier this year two of the country’s oldest newspapers had to close its doors. The Riocky Mountain News ceased publication on February 27, 2009 while the Seattle Post Intelligence went 100% digital a week later.

This turn of events isn’t some new phenomenon as the American Journalism Review had been reporting about future closings of newspapers around the country for at least a three year span.

What would be the reason why so many daily newspapers could be contemplating closings?

The same reason that many smaller newspapers face every year: the high cost of operation.

As you will recall, the San Antonio Informer went 100% digital January 15, 2008.

That decision wasn’t made lightly as some may think.

Many readers of the printed edition thought it was selfish of us to go this route. However, as you are now noticing with just about everything you read, many newspapers and magazines have websites that are just as informative or more in depth than the printed counterpart. One of the biggest reasons why many newspapers are going this route is the simple fact that operations expenditures are dramatically lower than printing the paper.

The decisions that we faced over a year ago is 100 times multiplied for a daily newspaper.

Whereas we have decided to maintain our presence via the web, a daily operation like the San Antonio Express News or the Boston Globe doesn’t have that luxury.

Newspapers have been our way of getting news on a daily basis probably since Gutenburg developed the first printing press.

While there are still thousands of newspapers being published today in this country, one cannot escape the notion that soon some of this country’s biggest blayers in the newspaper industry will cease to exist.

When a publication like the Globe is threatening closing its doors in sixty days, that isn’t a threat to be taken lightly.

Some believe that the government should bail out the industry and that isn’t the solution to this economic problem.

This problem is far more complex than just an influx of operating capital and it is a problem that no Congressional oversight committee can put a solution to.

With the way our society is on having instantenous news coverage cycles, the industry is at a quandary on how to not only provide the content for its readers but also how to stay competitive and profitable.

The digital age has become the two edge sword for many publications and the Boston Globe is just one of those pubs caught in the digital turbulence.

Hopefully we won’t see a vast institution become sated to our computer screens but that time is coming sooner than we all realized.


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