Mutter on newspapers and next-gen readers

The now many-years long debate in newspaper newsrooms can be boiled down to a few issues, one of the most basic is a generational debate. If your parents don’t read newspapers, odds are you won’t either. If you get all of your information elsewhere, odds are you won’t seek out news from a paper. If you’re accustomed to television news, online news and, now, social media as your news drivers, then you probably won’t order a newspaper subscription, and so on.

Alan Mutter discusses a new Pew report. Mutter is an old hand at this, and always a good read. And he’s today pointing out the sobering facts of the Pew research:

When asked by researchers to identify their preferred source for crime news, 44% of those in the 40-plus category named newspapers, as compared with just 23% for the younger cohort.

[…]

In what may be a sign of the desperation of the population in this time of high unemployment, the only area where young and old alike turned with equal frequency to newspapers is hunting for information about jobs. Even there, only 17% of each age group considered newspapers the first place to look.

Pew also found this sobering statistic: Fully 69% of respondents said it would not “have a major impact” on their ability to keep up with news about their community if their local paper no longer existed.

One important problem has been corporate inertia. As you know, the world around us has changed rapidly in your lifetimes, but the newspaper industry has been slow to adapt.

Remember this: many newspapers are struggling, but these are exciting times in journalism. There are lots of things to try and new tools with which to experiment and techniques to master.

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