June 14, 2012

Newspapers once WERE #Facebook

And that, more than anything, is why newspapers will continue to lose relevance (and, both in print and online, a cut of advertising dollars).

Other people have written about how the Internet means that the local newspaper's "bundling" of sports, entertainment, advise, news, commentary, etc., simply isn't totally viable any more.

But they haven't commented on how that came to be in the first place.

Answer is simple.

Newspapers in the 20th century became what they did precisely because, in the developed world, labor laws gave more people more time to read more often.

Result? Newspapers, for the "middlebrow," if we will, became diversions. Something to while away the day, in part.

Just like much of the Internet in general is today, and very much like Facebook is today.

But, if the new Facebook, the actual Facebook, has an IPO that sank like trash, and has little idea of how much or how well it can further monetize advertising, what should that say to Facebook version 0.3, the online/offline, or even now, online-only in some cases, modern newspaper?

It should be precautionary at least.

Publicly traded newspapers probably should take a deep plunge risk and be honest with shareholders now, rather than later. And, if a Warren Buffett still wants to speculate, know that it's probably for financialization move, not a belief in newspapers' future. There's money, and tax write-offs, after all, in debt servicing.

Anyway, newspapers, with linking to outside PR websites, etc., are trying more and more to be Facebook. But, they just don't have the social networking reach.

And never will.

Learning those limitations, and living in reality, is key. Going forward from there may vary from paper to paper, but it's the bottom line.

Eventually, the social media world will become more diffused, and that, too, will likely hurt papers more than help.

That's the world we're in, though.

The newspaper as diversion simply is a back-burner item.

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