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February 6th, 2009
01:13 PM ET

How important is saving America’s newspapers?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"How to Save Your Newspaper: A Modest Proposal.” That's the cover story of TIME magazine this week. In it, Walter Isaacson – former managing editor of Time and the current CEO of the Aspen Institute – as well as my former boss here at CNN – writes how the crisis in journalism has reached meltdown proportions. He says we can now imagine a time when some big cities will no longer have a newspaper, saying that last year more people in this country got their news online for free than paid for it by buying newspapers and magazines.

How important is saving America’s newspapers?

News outlets now primarily rely on advertising revenue and not on newsstand sales and subscriptions.

Isaacson describes how news outlets now primarily rely on advertising revenue and not on newsstand sales and subscriptions. He says that in order for newspapers to survive they will have to charge for content by way of subscriptions. He also suggests introducing an easy payment system – like how people buy songs on i-Tunes or use an EZ pass.

It's clear that with the decline of advertising dollars, newspapers are in deep trouble. Publisher McClatchy reported a $21.7 million loss for the fourth quarter. It says it plans to cut about $100 million this year, it's unclear how much of that will come in the form of layoffs. Other companies like the New York Times, Gannett and Lee Enterprises have already reported lower profits in that same quarter. And, Rupert Murdoch's giant media conglomerate News Corp posted its biggest ever quarterly net loss this week, taking a write-down of $8.4 billion.

The CEO of another struggling company, the Sun-Times Media Group, says he'll resign at the end of the month – after the company announced last month it would close a dozen of its weekly papers and ask union workers to take a pay cut.

Here’s my question to you: How important is it to save America's newspapers?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Steve from Florida writes:
That's kind of a tricky question. With the almost instantaneous transfer and availability of information on the internet, a breaking headline is old news before they even turn the press on. Then, of course, that headline becomes a "breaking" story for a week or two on cable news. What I think is important to save is honest, unbiased, in-depth reporting no matter what format. Anybody still doing that?

Jim from Chicago writes:
Essential. There is a huge difference between an informed opinion and just forming an opinion. Newspapers are a critical source of information, particularly about local issues.

Erico writes:
Not too long ago, we used the teletype ticker tape. It was essential for many functions, such as tracking landing and takeoff of aircraft or keeping tabs on the stock market. The teletype is a symbol of what will become of newspapers as we know them now. The electronic media is sweeping across the board, eliminating old technologies and industries. By eliminating my newspaper subscription, I've been able to upgrade my internet services and communications.

David in Orlando writes:
Unfortunately our society is leaving behind many of the values that kept us safe and free. With all due respect to the electronic media of all sorts, it is the quick, easy access to info without sufficient standards of accuracy that have helped to get us into this situation. There was a time when a newspaper article was well-researched and fact-checked and was therefore a dependable source of accurate information… Today, TV news has often had its various faces slathered in egg because of the misguided desire to be first rather than right. And the internet is ten times worse than that. But none of it matters; newspapers as we knew them are dinosaurs.

Maurice from Two Rivers, Wisconsin writes:
Absolutely essential to our freedom. No Bias, no Bull.


Filed under: Journalism • US News Media
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Louis Manus

    Saving newspapers is vitally important. They provide a source of information for those of us who do not like getting information off the net and it is a much easier way to read, I can do it in my leisure time and go back and re-read.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  2. Frank from Peterborough

    Newspapers are important to the economy as they stimulate monies from their advertising and provide employment for a large segment of society.

    There are still a large number of people not computer literate enough to get all their information from the Internet and main stream news medias certainly don't cover all the news uncensored.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  3. Jonathan Rix

    Valpariaso, IN

    America's Newspapers are important to save because it gives jobs to people and we all know that jobs are hard to come by now a days. The news paper industry is more than just writers it has repair workers, Transporters, list goes on and on. The industry encourages other industries such as paper, ink and metal. The american people need jobs and not saving the American newspaper industry would take jobs away where is the logic in that?

    February 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  4. Mark in OKC

    I NEVER read a newspaper and I am probably more up to date on current events than most people. I use television, radio and the internet. Save the trees and do away with newspapers! People can line their bird cages with copies of yearly stimulus bills.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  5. erico 33129

    Not too long ago, we used the teletype ticker tape. It was essential for many functions, such as tracking landing and takeoff of aircraft, or keeping tabs on the stock market. The teletype is a symbol of what will become of newspapers as we know them now. The electronic media is sweeping across the board, eliminating old technologies and industries. By eliminating my newspaper subscription, I've been able to upgrade my internet services and communications.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Jo-Ann Behan

    Totally unimportant. As a small business owner, I wouldn't think
    of having the government save my business. Saving the newspapers
    with my taxpayer money? NO ! Needless to say the NY Times and other newspapers don't report the truth anyway! I'm sure that's why
    the Democratic Congress will want to save them! Unbiased, bi-
    partisan ???? Newspapers are in the same category as the
    Congress...unbiased...bi-partisan...they don't have a clue.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  7. Bob in Indiana

    Jack you are certainly not suggesting another bailout.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  8. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    A world without newspapers would be a sad place indeed. Where else can you get all the news, commentary, sports, entertainment, and classified ads to read in your own time and at your own leisure.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  9. Ron San Diego

    Hi Jack:

    I guess it is right up there with saving CNN and the Situation Room. Where would we be without Wolfe Blitzer and your Cafferty File?

    Ron San Diego

    February 6, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    Jack sometimes you have to just leave nature takes it take its course. The milkman no longer delivers milk to our door and record players no longer play our music. But still we have plenty of milk to drink and the iPod to play our music. A new generation now turns towards the Internet and TV to get their news. If we do not destroy the planet earth with global warming or bombs, there will come a day that the Internet and television will also be spoke about and past tense.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Jeff, Oregon State University

    It's incredibly important, not only are newspapers a time capsule of where America has come through the years, it's really the only news that we can preserve for our children. I know that I keep many issues of the paper from important dates so that way when I am older (of course not your age Jack), I can look back and see where the nation has gone since then (now).

    The problem is, it hasn't been just the newspapers that are struggling. The radio stations (predominately AM radio) has been devastated just as much if not more. And it isn't a matter of this recession, it's been going on for almost a decade now.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  12. Thomas

    Very Important !

    Unless your Sarah Palin and you don't need to be informed of community and world !

    February 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  13. Conor in Chicago

    So long as newspapers realize that all they need to do is change their format to the internet and not rely on actuall printed newspapers they might survive. Think of all the trees saved in the process.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  14. Bob D of Morristown, NJ

    Let's distinguis news-paper from news publishing. The model for news dissemination is changing. It is no longer necessary to denude forrests and polute streams to disseminate news. Publishing of independent news from non-political sources is vital for a free democratic society, but putting ink to paper to distribute it is not.

    The oldest continuousl news publication is now distributed exclusively on the internet. The price the reader pays for each paper doesn't even cover the cost of the newsprint, printing, and distribution of they physical media. If those components are eliminated, advertising, which has almost always provided the bulk of news publication revenue, can pay for the gathering and electronic distribuion.

    What I find disturbing is the increasing concentration of news outlets into hyper-political, reactionary hands like Rupert Murdoch's.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  15. Vinnie Vino

    Jack,

    In today's age print media is our prehistoric era's exstinct dinosaurs...

    Central Islip, N.Y.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Joe in DE

    It dose not matter how im,portant we may think it is to save newspapers – they are on the way out. Maybe a handful can survive.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  17. HD in Phoenix

    On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give it a 5. That is because it is really only half the equation with regard to getting news out there and it also represents an important form of speech. It has a place but that place has been redefined by elements outside of its control.

    HD in Phoenix, AZ

    February 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  18. odessa

    most readers are reading news scoop off the interent or buying it..we need to know what is going in our country but if the companies are continuing raising fees for reading the paper, well it is not worth saving..

    February 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  19. Terry- Greensburg, IN

    It use-to-be a free market society. Jack you think we should bail them out?
    I'm a strong believer in the theory "Sink or Swim"
    I'm more worried about saving myself.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  20. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    Jack, saving America’s newspapers should be our number one priority. What else can we use to line our coats with to keep us warm when we are all out of a job thanks to the Congressional bickering? I cannot burn my computer when it is too expensive to pay for heat can I? I think lining bird cages across America is reason enough to keep a behind the times medium up and running.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  21. stephen mial

    Absolutely!! There are numerous senior citizens that have a daily routine of having coffee while they ready the papers or work cross word puzzles. These folks have shied away from computers and rely on newspapers to keep their minds active. There a many many baby boomers that never caught onto the computer age and I doubt that they will change. We probably don't need as many news outlets but we need some. I can't imagine not being in a position to achieve a copy of the Washington Post on November 5, 2008, where the front page depicted President elect Obama.........

    Steve M
    Clifton, VA

    February 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  22. Ed

    Aside from reading them, newspapers are great for anything from do-it-yourself projects to puppy training. We need to keep those around.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  23. Andrew, Los Angeles

    As someone in his early 20's, I'm a constantly chastized by my peers for reading the newspaper. As the last bastion on objective media on the planet, the newspaper is certainly worth saving, but I'm not sure anyone is going to care in a few more years. I'm afraid the newspaper is doomed.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  24. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    Jack, what's a newspaper? I watch CNN and use the internet to find the news and other stuff.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  25. Diana

    Jack,
    Yes, newspapers are very important. First, they cover the local news as well as the state and national news. Second, I watch news all day, and I see some stories briefly mentioned over and over throughout the day, but never in detail. The next day I read the rest of the story in my newspaper. Independent newspapers are critical to the future of democracy in our country. That's where we find out what is really going on.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  26. Mickie

    I love reading the paper and books (imagine). Even on computer sites they don't always put the full story in print, they expect everyone wants to view a video. However, at the rate our education system is going, kids growing up today won't be able to read a paper anyway.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  27. Matthew, Cedar Rapids, IA

    Newspapers have been whittled down so much that only the technology illiterate rely on them for daily news. Letting physical newspapers die would promote easier and better ways to get news to people, internet and computer literacy, and it's also green. Imagine how many trees would be saved if we weren't printing newspapers on them. Answer me one question, though: don't most of these papers have their articles online, too?

    February 6, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  28. Geri

    I think newpapers and almost anything else in print is worth saving, particularly if it's interesting and well written.

    Geri – Mead, OK

    February 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  29. Don (Ottawa)

    Not important enough to ask this question. Since the general public has lost the ability to read, why bother worrying about newspapers.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  30. Ray, Florida

    I would guess not so important if you're a tree Jack!!

    February 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  31. Stacy, Fairfax, VA

    It would be a sad sign of the times. My mom religiously reads her hometown daily newspaper and is worried about losing daily delivery. She was sad that her morning routine would never be the same.
    As for me, my Sunday mornings would never be the same and I would miss getting that black ink on my fingertips.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  32. Gigi in Alabama

    I am afraid that I am one of those that get even my local news from the internet. I go to my local paper's webpage and get what I need to know without the bother of having to sort through all that unnecessary advertisement.
    I know that advertisement is the life blood for newspapers, but it's rediculous how much extra paper you have to wade through to see about 5 pages of actual news.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  33. Deb I , Nauvoo, IL

    Times change, not always for the better, but change always happens. I would rather see money put into an expansion of internet access, so that those who cannot afford technology as it is now, could share the bright new world. Newspapers are inefficient, wasteful and just plain unbearably slow. I can read many other newspapers on line than I could have access to as hard copy. I love books, too, and really regret the possible loss of books far more than newspapers. I used to wait at the front door for the paperboy every morning. Now, I can log on anytime I want, and I love it.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  34. Lisa, San Jose, California

    I'm not sure saving America's "newspapers" is that important. But saving America's free press is.

    When you have a newspaper format, both advertisers and readers are contributing to the income stream. There is a financial incentive to balance the interests of both sides of that equation.

    When only advertisers pay, then the news stream is potentially compromised toward presenting things in a way biased in favor of those advertisers. This is a problem in broadcast media already.

    With 'free' ad-subsidied news available online, it is hard to convince people to buy a subscriber-supported news source, because to assess its added value they have to read it over a period of time, which means putting money up front without knowing what they're buying. So that financial incentive to balance interests gets lost.

    Ending physical newspapers is also the 'green' thing to do, so between economics and environment, I don't see how physical papers can survive.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  35. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    The Pentagon Papers, Watergate and other investigative reports all came in newspapers. They're a hassle to recycle and have too many advertisements, but I would pay to read them on line. At my age, I like to check the obits. I would miss them, but then I still miss typewriters.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  36. Maurice - Two Rivers, WI

    Absolutely essential to our freedom. No Bias no Bull.

    Maurice
    Two Rivers, WI

    February 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  37. lou

    I'm sure my teenage kids will get their news on the computer when they grow up. Times are a changing...we elected our first president who credited much of his win to online donations and cyber supporters. The news business will have to change with the times.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  38. MARCUS123 Flanders

    Not enough to use taxpayer money;

    February 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  39. Jim Bloom

    Essential. There is a huge difference between a informed opinion and just forming a opinion. Newspapers are a critical source of information, particuarly about local issues.

    Jim
    Chicago, IL

    February 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  40. Sam Fairview, Texas

    Unfortunately news papers are a thing of the past and have outlived their usefulness. Other then lining the birds cage or cat box they are of little value anymore. With the speed of computers and the information Super Highway at your fingertips via Internet, cell phone or television the newspaper has become obsolete and is yesterdays news. Heck Jack if it wasn't for your email comment section we wouldn't be watching CNN right now. Something to think about anyway.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  41. V.K. Raman, Sparks

    Newspaper have lost its attraction with the X and millenium generation. If Newspaper media has to survive they have to go digital as their readership is dwindling day by day. Their situation is similar to analog vinyl albums which disappeared within 2/3 years of introduction of Compact Disc.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  42. Loyd - Kingman AZ

    As an old newspaperman, I've bridged hot metal to offset to digital. Each was better and more exciting than the last. There is nothing to fear, only the jump from one ship to the next. It's the sharks in the water that's scary.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  43. Amanda

    Other than wedding announcements, obituaries (i.e.things that people like to cut out and put in scrap books) and coupons, newspapers have pretty much become useless.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  44. Mickey Gensler Bronx, 10471,N.Y.

    It is extremely important. News on T.V. while it may be immediate it is sometimes wrong, and it is given in capsulated form. Whereas you can read the news at your convenient and even read it again in a newspaper.TV and internet reports are given too fast to digest because of time limitations. I thought we were seeing the death knell of the newspaper when it was decided that T.V. and Radio. and internet can all be owned by one company in the same market. That creates propoganda not news.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  45. Jim from Massachusetts

    Jack, I haven't read a newspaper in years, or magazines either for that matter. Their biggest problem is that today's news travels too fast. By the time they print it and sell it, it's yesterdays or even last week's news. Newspapers will go the way of all things good – i.e. – dinner with the family, morals, penny candy, drive-in movies and anything that involves "directions" to put it together. And beware Jack, next up – no mailboxes – goodbye Postal Service !!!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  46. mike/Califronia

    Ity's still an important way to get information and also it creates alot of jobs from papermills to advertisement. It's a shame that this sector might not make it through these tough times..

    February 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  47. Melissa, Winterville, NC

    It's about as important as saving the typewriter or an eight-track tape player.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  48. David

    From Florida...

    No one reads the newspaper here in college, they call go for online free sources. Admit it now or later, newspapers are obsolete

    February 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  49. Dan Dutton

    Hi Jack,
    For me it not be a good thing as I really enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and my L. A. Times 7 days a week. I have a few computers however I don't enjoy reading articles on them like I do my Times.

    Dan Dutton
    Laguna Beach, Ca.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  50. Jeff Shelton

    I'd rather save a few million trees then save America's floundering newspaper industry. They are quickly becoming unnecessary and obsolete.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  51. Sharon Collins in San Antonio

    Our newspapers are intrinsic to our democracy. Sound bites can't replace solid investigative reporting. Let us not forget how the press exposed Watergate.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  52. Rolando DePuy

    Keeping Newspapapers alive, is the biggest waste of money and resources. They take political sides, they report wrong the news and if not they "invent the news" like so many televisions News report.
    Get rid of them!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  53. Ahmad Moubadder

    Jack, its important, but I put the blame on my young generation that lack to read our newspapers that give us an understanding of what is going on. I think newspaper executives should do something to get more readers and the government should do something to have "we the young" more interacted in it. Its our lack of understanding that got us here.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  54. Jon, Los Angeles

    Newspapers are vitally important.. There are thousands that are employed in the newspaper industry... writers, editors, artists, photographers.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  55. Carl

    Yes, Jack, I think that it's very important to save the newspapers. In addition to reporting the news, they offer varying opinions which help the population in forming opinions. The internet, television, magazines are all important but they are just part of it. I find it tragic that so many newspapers are gone.

    Carl
    Scranton, PA

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  56. Dorothy from MN

    I think newspapers and investigative journalists must survive so that we will know what is going on. We cannot all do our own investigations. They may have to be in a different format, not be daily, But they need to be affordable as they must be available to the majority of the people.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  57. Liz, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    Jack, Iwouldn't be telling the truth if I said I'd be really sorry to see many of the newspapers go – but I would like to see some of the major ones, such as the New York Times, to remain. Also. I still feel many magazines are important and they should remain.

    But in this world of cyberspace and 24-hour cable news on TV, I must admit I tend to get most of my news from these sources – I'm on disability, and it saves me a lot of money rather than paying for a year long newspaper subscription.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  58. Jon

    We may not have to save newspapers, but we need to save newspaper reporting. The same journalism online – and people need to start paying for it. I work at a newspaper. I don't expect to get other peoples' products for free, why should mine be free? Journalism can thrive online but people will have to pay for it.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  59. Renee Nashville, TN

    Reading promotes knowledge and we all know knowledge is power. Powerless people could care less about newspapers.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  60. Josh in MO

    The elimination of newspapers wouldn't be a bad thing. We would save thousands, if not millions of trees. Most people read the news online now anyways. It's faster to get your opinion of an article heard when you can simply hit "submit comment".

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  61. Joe Cronin

    Newspapers are the most vital communication medium in America. The news papeer gives insight that cannot be normally found on the internet. Besides we reeally need the comics!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  62. Jay W (Los Angeles)

    Jack, technology is moving forward, and our news companies along with our government, and many corporations are still acting in 20th century mode, and as a result news worthiness is not news but politics, shools are failing, jobs are leaving, companies are folding up, hospitals closing their doors, and the criminal mind is on display, from the white house to the whore house, and even though its in the light of day, they are all in the game to play.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  63. Rebecca in SC

    As long as America is indifferent to literacy, there is no point in saving newspapers. Everyone bleats about throwing money at math and science education without considering that people who can't read with reasonable comprehension can't succeed in math and science. English teachers are the underpaid (and scorned) red-haired stepchildren of the education community, and national studies documenting America's decline in literacy are ignored. What is the point of newspapers for a population that thinks reading is for sissies.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  64. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    there may be a generational difference. I used both media internet and newspapers for news but found myself cancelling one daily newspaper since there is a repetition from journalists sending the same article to different newspapers!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  65. patrick

    newspaper vs internet is equal to the horse and buggy vs the automobile.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  66. Eric VanSickle (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

    Jack:

    Until you can hold a computer with one hand while standing on the subway or bus in order to read online news content on the daily commute, newspapers are going to be very important medium for most people. It's very important to save the newspaper not only for that reason, but also for the thousands of jobs that newspapers provide, everyone from the publisher and editor to the reporters that provide the content all the way down to the pressmen and those kids who deliver the newspaper every morning or afternoon.

    Of course, it helps that I have six years of working in newspapers as a reporter or sportswriter and another three schlepping around the neighborhood delivering the Waterloo Courier as a teen.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  67. Jack - Lancaster, OH

    Jack:

    I know the younger generation is cyber-motivated but also do not consider the increasing brown outs and power outs and link it to the fact that when your power goes out , the printed word is the only thing ready for candle light, or crank lite, or the light of tomorrow morning. No kilowatts, no megabytes.

    Jack

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  68. David

    The doom and gloom you describe is primarily happening to large daily newspapers. Community weeklies are doing just fine, probably because they play such a major role in community life.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  69. Brad G

    Jack,
    I was recently laid off from a company that does support for online advertising on newspaper websites nationwide. Local business will be hurt if newspapers begin to die, because it's one of their most important ways to advertise.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  70. Frank Mott

    Unfortunately, most Americans couldn't care less, except for sports and comic! I live and have worked in our very large local university for over 30 years in Coumbus, Ohio, (guess which) where most colleagues don't have a clue of what is going on in the world except for their narrow parochial interests.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  71. Gina of Burbank, CA

    Local Newspapers are vital for local, detailed, community information. The internet and new stations are not a good substitute.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  72. Chuck Bebee - minnesota

    Jack, without the local newspaper what the hell would I do in the bathroom?

    February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  73. Ed in Gadsden, Alabama

    Community newspapers are the heart of the community. We cannot and will not lose this all important sharing of our local values. We all want to keep up with the births, deaths, and other important events of our friends and neighbors, even in large cities. Newspapers are thought of as reliable and accurate journalism. Television news does not have the track record of newspapers, and talk radio and the Internet surly are not thought of as accurate.

    Ed Rudd
    Gadsden, Alabama

    February 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  74. David Bakody Nova Scotia

    Newspapers sadly to say are gone as the new generation of hand held readers come on line ..... the cost is just too expensive and the Internet and 24/hr news stations are now the norm. Sorry Jack/Wolf CNN just might have been one of the nails in their coffin.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  75. Tim, Delray Beach Florida

    How many major cities still have telegraph offices? Covered wagon manufacturers? Newspapers are dying simply because there are newer technologies that perfom the same function of delivering news, only they do it faster and in an easier to use format. Let them die out with dignity, any attempts to save them will be futile.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  76. Marie

    If the Newspapers would cover more news with greater truth and depth they would be worth fighting for. Same for the TV media. I'm old and I like the puzzles and the international news, so I enjoy the CSM, The Guardian, NY Times and Le Soir.
    If I want entertainment news I'll seek it out. I don't need it 24/7 on news stations, or in the Newspapers. I miss investigative reporters, I'm tired of ONE SIDE ONLY NEWS from the Middle East. But I do pay to get the NY Times and I'll continue. Do you remember when we had seven papers in NY, I do.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  77. Ed in Bucks County, PA

    Jack: I have always started my day off with a good cup of coffee and
    my daily newspaper. I see the day coming when it will cease publication. A recent notice on page one has alerted us that we will no longer get our Saturday edition. I'm not looking forward to that day!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  78. Don M. Fall

    Jack,

    You might as well ask the question "how important is it to save video tapes?" It is called evolution Jack; there were once video tapes, now there are DVD’s. Everything is moving to the World Wide Web, which is great because finally the trees will get a break.

    Don in Indianapolis

    February 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  79. Andrew Okoh

    The world is changing and with that comes big cats going out of date. If anything the newspapers should save themselves. Our bailouts should instead be focused on opening new grounds for future competition. See what bailing out the auto industry has become.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  80. Bill Orsburn

    Mr. Cafferty: I worked for the former Arkansas Gazette & The Houston Post, both long gone years ago. I still miss the special feeling of meeting deadlines and then looking at your work the next day and hoping you got it right. I can't start my day without the sports page so, YES, go buy a newspaper today and save a thousands of jobs!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  81. Courtney Caudill

    The local newspaper are killing themselves. Shrunk until stories nothing but sound bites you can hear on TV. Also they got rid of the local interest journalist which I enjoyed reading. Paper about half what it was before incentral Ky.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  82. Julia, Newton NJ

    Very. Anyone can write a headline for an online ticker, but having real, tangible journalism is something that can never be replaced.
    Besides, I'm a journalism student. I'd like to have somewhere to write once I graduate. Should I not join you guys at CNN, I mean. :-)

    February 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  83. Jeff MacKay

    It's sad to think of losing the daily newspaper. But with modern technology taking over at such a fast rate, reading the newspaper has now become merely traditon. The internet is faster, more convenient and much more up to date. I think it's time to save valuable paper that can be used for more procutive necessities

    February 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  84. Natalia, Albuquerque, NM

    If the nation's newspapers fail, I will feel sorry for the thousands of reporters that will join the ranks of the unemployed. While I do enjoy reading my local newspaper, I get more thoughtful and truthful information from political magazines and cable news (such as The Situation Room and MSNBC). My newspaper is owned by conservatives and I just don't like the anti-Obama, anti-Democrat bias, especially in the overwhelming number of op-ed pundits in their editorial section. The only thing I will really miss are the crossword puzzles.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  85. Gillian

    I still love the newspaper, especially Sunday's, taking my time reading through favorite sections and doing the Sunday crossword puzzle. I would hate to see them disappear! However, I now download The New York Times puzzles online as I find it very hard to find places to recycle ANY newspapers. Having lived in Atlanta years ago where we were able to recycle EVERYTHING, I feel terrible impacting the environment any further by having no where to dispose of the paper but the trash!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  86. Bruce

    Newspapers served a valuable service but are no longer the efficient way to get the news, Even baby boomers like me prefer the internet. And don't forget the the trees + the land fills. Just makes sense to me.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  87. robert

    technology changes our lives and can enhance it, newspapers in a time of rapid fire information and upto the date information is in perspective yesterdays news while the rest of us are up to date others are still learning the days news from yesterday. that tactile feel of printed paper i guess keeps people clinging to them and wasting their money.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  88. new York Bob

    I have the web i have the news on my phone but guess what. I read the newspaper every morning. I believe that some people read the paper because they dont know how to use a computer or dont get internet where they live. But for me , Its the best part of my morning. My wife and I read it together and trade the sections as we complete them. The internet cant give me that.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  89. Helen of Tahoe

    Jack,

    I have recently let my newspaper subscription expire. I get my paper online now. I can read my local paper in an e-edtion and see the exact version of it with ads and all on my computer. Now I have no newspaper ink on my hands and no newsprint to throw out or recycle. I can also see back issues. This is better for the environment. I would gladly pay a fee for an online subscription. The newspaper would have lower costs by not printing and paying someone to deliver it. It seems to be a no brainer to me.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  90. Romell in Ca.

    Jack, There was a time when the daily newspaper was the major source of news for many . Things are different with Satellite radio, web news , iPhone and TV news is more or less instant. If you look at the major print news sources they all seem to put a slant to what they report anyway, so out with old and in with the new.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  91. Stephanie S

    Reading online news from your desktop computer consumes about .14 kWh of energy, which increases your electric bill by a little over a penny or one-tenth of the energy required to produce newsprint from recycled paper.

    You’d need to spend 10 hours reading the news online before you consumed the amount of energy used to make recycled newsprint for a single newspaper. If you were to read online news for an hour per day, over the course of a year you’d consume just over 50 kWh—about $5 worth of energy.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  92. Bob Kipp

    The world has changed. The internet is taking over. The economics and speed of news delivery will rule. Local papers may have to publish less frequently than daily and focus on local advertisng layouts to survive. Breaking news has been claimed by the Internet & TV.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  93. James in Kamiah Idaho

    Pretty important Jack. The newspapers are our solid record of world study, and one that cannot be deleted unless inserted into the garbage can.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  94. Vikram

    Jack,
    I can best answer your question with one of my own. Why is it important to save the (paid for) Newspaper when you have the (free) Newsscreen (Laptop or monitor)?? You have the news you want when you want it and delivered to you at your whim for free in lieu of having to search for it no end in the newspaper and pay for it?? Go figure...
    Food for thought eh?
    Vikram

    February 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  95. Shawn from Phoenix,Az

    Jack It is important, but unfortunately newspapers have shot themselves in the foot. Many dragged their feet when the internet came into being instead of embrasing it. They also did not go after young readers. And finially they took a turn to the right after bing shuned by the Bush Administration. After many local papers were sucked up by corporations they all started to look the same. Many newspapers layed off their older, diversified ,talented staff and replaced them by young writers who seem to write stories off press releases, leaving the reader with more questions than answers.
    With the internet a reader can usually get better writing, more updates, and you can sign up to have your favorite retailers e-mail you their specials-all without killing any trees.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  96. Jim

    Not important at all, we only get the papers slanted opinion on the issues and not the facts relating to an issue anyway. The way things are going if something doesn't change the news media is going to be the ruination of our country.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  97. Andrew (NYC)

    It is less important to save the newspaper business than it is to save the unique qualities of newspaper journalism. As someone passionate about the news industry, it would be an absolute shame to see this class of skilled investigative reporters working in Public Relations or other trades. it would be a huge loss to society.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  98. Art Andrews

    Jack, newspapers are in an evolving time, just like radio when television became widespread, the Internet affects newspapers to a degree. I foresee influence on the Internet when ads will be placed and advertising paid there as well. Instant news is here to stay, and paper media are adjusting but never gone. E-Books are on the Internet, and newspapers will stay as well.

    Remember that people thought that cars would eliminate horses, but, we still use them, just not in the same manner. Now, I gotta go jump into my covered wagon, and read my news paper !

    February 6, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  99. Pattie from Jersey

    Saving newspapers is important ONLY if we can save journalism. True journalists tell the public what they NEED to know, not what they WANT to know. Save the profession and the medium will follow suit.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  100. Terrance

    As a student journalism I feel it is very important to save America's first media outlet. Newspapers provide jobs, as well as ask the important questions. With all the bail outs being ushered out the newspapers should have been on the top of the list. Subscriptions aren't the only way to make money. In fact subscriptions are fading away along with the baby boomer generation that fueled them. Younger generations don't rely on newspapers as much. The solution is to invest in what is working. Online readership, more local coverage, and social networking. Some newspapers have even came up with new types of journalist. The community journalist reports more localized news that you usually won't see in the paper. Hopefully the government will give one of the oldest voices in America some help so they can reorganize and do what they always have, report.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  101. Ksnyder

    Let them fail! No one bailed out my father who was a typewriter repair man when the computer age put him out of business in the mid '80s! I say let the companies innovate to be profitable, if they can't they'll fail and find something else to do just like my father did.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  102. Gail Nugent

    Cheers for Buffalo, NY! The Buffalo News won for being the most circulated local newspaper in th nation. Buffalo may have a reputation of having the worst weather but we are very ardent readers. My husband and I look forward to receiving our paper everyday in fact I'm the one who brings it in every morning. I can't imagine not enjoying my daily paper with my coffee. This nation can only continue to grow and prosper with well informed readers.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  103. Tim in Texas

    It may not be important to save 'newspapers' in the traditional paper format, but it is important to preserve the accountablility and ethical standards that go along with traditional reporting. Far too often in both 'news' programs and Internet 'news' sources, the line between editorializing and reporting is blurred beyond the point of recognition. In addition, fact checking and accountability seem to have gone out the window. These things need to be preserved whatever the medium of communication is.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  104. David in Alabama

    Saving newspapers is very important. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm on deadline.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  105. Christine, Thousand Oaks Ca

    It's very important to save our newspapers in some form because the internet and bloggers are just not "reliable sources" for ACCURATE news. At least content on Wikipedia is very policed. On the internet in general, it is not. Any yahoo (pardon the pun) can post on the web and consider it "news". But the newspaper problem is intricately entwined in print advertising. If companies can not or do not want to advertise in print it will be hard to save this medium, unless the papers are able to collect higher revenues for advertising in the newspapers' online format.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  106. PS, West Chester, Pa

    Newspapers have not tried to change with the times, to adapt to the new environment. So do we need them to be saved ?? Some do like to read but if they cannot survive on their own, then the market place must do its job and restructure. Jobs will be lost but the electronic media place is huge and can recover a number of them. Change is constant. Industries that can't or dont adapt die; that has been the way since the beginning of time.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  107. Tom in Iowa

    As a former Newsperson who worked for a number of newspapers, I can tell you that the days of the Newspaper have gone the way of the buggy whip.

    Printed news is a thing of the past.

    The future of the News industry lies in instant news to a PDA or other hand held device, the internet and 24 hour television broadcasts, like yours.

    It is time the Newspaper industry realized it's time has passed and pack it in.

    Tom in Iowa

    February 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  108. shel

    lets save the horse and buggy while we're at it...

    February 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  109. Jim Boyle

    Newspapers....the next dinosaurs. Waste of paper. Save some trees! Reporters will still be a vital cog in the mass media machince. Have a nice weekend Jack!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  110. Alan-Buxton, Maine

    Newspapers are obsolete and will go the way of TV antennas and fender-skirts on cars. Think of how many trees will be saved when there are no more newspapers.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  111. Jennifer

    My parents are 81 and 79 years of age. Their primary sources of news are the radio and the newspaper. They are totally intimidated by computers. I would hate for newspapers to disappear completely. Their reading of the newspaper is excellent mental stimulation at this age – it helps them to distinguish one day from the next and to keep life moving forward, which is all too easy for senior citizens to lose.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  112. Sid...Texas

    Jack, I'm afraid that the era of newspapers is winding down. I've read newspapers since I was 9 years old. The last few years of missed deliverys, soaking wet papers, very bad costumer service, dogs chewing them up, very heavy garbage bags, 10 lbs. of adds, 1/4 lb. of news, rising subscription prices, reprints of week old news, and asking the same price of a full months subscription just to deliver only the Sunday issue, I finally canceled my subscription. I now read the paper on the net, and buy the Sunday issue for the grocery coupons which more than cover the cost of the newspaper.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  113. Wade

    What did we do before newspapers, and what will we do after newspapers? Survive. I haven't read a newspaper in 20 years and I'm more informed now than at any point when I did. I asked my father the other day about this very subject. He stated that the only benefit to the city paper was the obituary and local news. Now he says, it's time for the paper to have it's own obituary. Time to move on people.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  114. Jason Bremerton, Wa

    I think papers should save themselves. If they were to print true unbiased information and let the reader decide things, they would probably improve. But the bias in various editorial boards are ruining the industry. Give me unbiased & unopinionated news/reporting and I'll start buying papers again. If not... Goodbye.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  115. John in Arizona

    Jack, saving our nation's newspapers is the only way we can save the critical art and passion of in-depth investigative journalism. It will require newspapers to change their paradigm, and reinvent themselves in bold and creative ways to adapt to the Internet age.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  116. Danni

    Not really that important, that’s what the internet is for. I can watch, read, and get my coupons, crossword all online. We sure could save a few trees, shouldn’t we be going green?
    Danni

    Upland, CA

    February 6, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  117. Jeff

    Don't get me wrong, it is convenient to get news by the internet, but it is also way more relaxing to sit down and read a newspaper. I say that even with the technology, people will continue to read newspapers on paper for that reason that it is such a part of a daily routine for many. This is especially true with local papers so that people can stay informed of local news events.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  118. william flinn

    We don't need NewsPapers anymore. To waste any resources on saving them would be a mistake. It is a shame that people are losing jobs, but the world is changing! Sooner or later, we are going to be finished with newspapers. I say sooner better than later.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  119. Alan Morgan

    About as important as it was in about 1900 to save the horse and buggy! Newspapers are going through the normal obsolescence cycle that has existed for all time. Many have already gone, many, many more will go and some will get better, innovate, migrate online in the interim and survive, for now. By about 2030, there may be very few, if any, left as we all may have live, digital info at our disposal anytime, everywhere including digital books and magazines and newspapers that even resemble the old fashioned type. Time changes all, cures all, heals all and expires all.Get used to it.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  120. Hank Corbett

    The print news media is a great counter-balance to talk radio and the highly biased blogs. We need to keep straight news available in every medium.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  121. Brian

    Jack,
    I'm an editor at my university's student newspaper and a Print Journalism major. God, I hope print newspapers survive. I hope for this not only because I want my pretty piece of paper to be worth something, but also because America needs journalism.
    This country has a sort of fourth branch of government: journalists. We provide the free flow of communication and keep government transparent. We will always be the watchdogs for all Americans, protecting ourselves from consumer or governmental abuse.
    Our newspaper has already taken a hit from this recession. Companies are scared to invest in ads. This is bad for the health of our newspaper, and in turn hampers our ability to teach journalism well.
    On March 1 our newspaper goes online. I can only hope people will still be willing to pick up a newspaper.

    Brian
    Edinburg, Texas
    University of Texas – Pan American

    February 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  122. Mike M, Indiana

    "All the news thats fit to print" versus all the news that can be fit into 20 minutes of broadcast time. Easy choice for me.
    Even in going over the online version of the local paper there is stuff that I would miss that I would notice in paging through the physical paper.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  123. Jennifer

    How important is saving newspapers?

    Only as important as protecting democracy.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  124. Brett Milam

    It isn't. The free market decides what stays and what doesn't through the consumer. And apparently the consumers have decided that newspapers just aren't that important enough.

    Brett
    Cincinnati, OH

    February 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  125. Dee in Florida

    I think it is vitally important, for two reasons.

    First local newspapers serve the local businesses and local interests. Maybe with the availability of the internet and internet journalism the large papers might not be so vital. But for small markets a local newspaper is important. Also, it is nice to see people actually WRITE, in real sentences, instead of that shorthand that is used so much in the web.

    Second, I know it probably nevre will happen, but what if. What if someone wished to attack us and their method of choice was to cripple our satellites in some way. What if there some worldwide disaster that made electronic communications impossible? The only way people would have to find out what was happening would be through printed news.

    If course that is not likely to happen, right? But aren't we "scared" all the time by the threat of what will happen if some jutjob gets a nuke!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  126. TerryC

    I am a huge fan of online news, text alerts and the such, but there is something still comforting about putting the coffee on at 5am, slipping into your tennis shoes with PJs still on, and navigating down the driveway to get the morning newspaper, and then sinking into your favorite comfy chair to enjoy your java with the newspaper – long live the city newspapers!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  127. Tom Huntington, NY

    I get a newspaper daily. The news is usually 24 to 48 hours behind the net but is is more fun to do the crossword in the paper in ink. If I had to, I could do without the paper but not the net.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  128. PKinDC

    I find it ironic that Isaacson suggests charging for content in newspapers, when in fact it is that content that has people dropping subscriptions and passing past news stands in the millions…how else can you explain the near total collapse of print news. Furthermore, by the time we get the morning edition, that news is usually 6-12 hours old. In today’s lightning speed news environment, that’s simply unacceptable. Newspapers will survive, in some minor format, playing no role in society. Their day has come and gone, and in part they are to blame, as they became the standard-bearers for a specific ideology, one not embraced by the masses the talked down to.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  129. Anne

    It's not very important, except for the jobs it will cost. Personally I don't have time to read an actual paper and just skim most of the headlines Think of all the trees and other resources that would be saved if all papers were online!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  130. Jeff in Minnesota

    I think the traditional newpaper on paper is dead but it will live and thrive on the Internet as long as they can figure out how to charge for it.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  131. Charles Boyung

    "Where else can you get all the news, commentary, sports, entertainment, and classified ads to read in your own time and at your own leisure?"

    That's an incredibly easy question to answer – the internet.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  132. CM

    Newspapers, like everything else, will have to stand or fall on their own merits. I get most of my news all day through my 'always on internet' internet, actually through cnn.com. In the evening I watch a little tv to supplement. I look at newspapers only to check local news, local weather, autos for sale – if I need to buy one, or to advertise for an employee. I can get news much faster through cnn.com than waiting for one or two days old news in the newspaper!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  133. JD Holzgrefe

    Jack, the demise of the community newspaper is evolution. Unless they can integrate the printed version with online community media, they are doomed.

    Here at Redmond Media which targets IT professionals, we are able to integrate the news, content and rich edit. It works and publishers need to embrace the online world.

    JD Holzgrefe

    February 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  134. Don Webb

    As evidenced by the poor economic performance of some large newspapers like the N.Y. Times, it can't be very important.
    If these newspapers were less biased, and more thorough in their
    reporting, they might be doing better. They were in trouble before this
    current crisis came along.
    Why would anyone want to spend advertising dollars with a failing newspaper with limited readership?

    February 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  135. satish , California

    Not everyone can have access to TV, Radio or Internet. Newspaper still has its own importance for some people.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  136. independent4ever los angeles, ca

    I think it's extremely important as an avenue to provide more than the soundbites you see on Tv, the Internet and such. However, considering that so many of the general public are illiterate these days, I can understand how they do not care about them.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  137. Chris Eberhart

    If there are not enough people buying newspapers to keep newspapers profitable.. then guess what... BYE BYE!! I personally hate them.. black ink on my fingers and no search feature.. LOL

    February 6, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  138. Chris

    I don't believe newspapers can be saved. Journalism; however, must and will continue on. But the delivery model of printing the news on paper and distributing out to homes and retail outlets each day as a primary means of getting the news out to people is unfortunately archaic and will continue to trail off into the sunset.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  139. Matt

    Let nature run it's course with the newspapers. Distribution media is changing all the time. My newspaper goes straight from the driveway to the recycle bin in the garage. We only use them to line the bird cage. With TV, internet, smart phones and RSS feeds every where, we'll figure out how to get by without the printed news...

    February 6, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  140. C.C.

    Jack, saving professional journalism is important. Trying to stick with an outdated technology such as printed news is delaying the unavoidable.

    On the other hand, we as a country need to realize that valuable things have a price. Unfortunately the Internet has created a culture of parasite journalism. It is time for the true journalistic institutions such as the NYT and WSJ to unite in setting fees for access. If they all work together on this as supposed to following the latest fad they will be able to remain profitable-online and off.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  141. John in Ottawa

    If the newspaper industry were to fail, would that not that trigger a further economic downturn? Companies that supply cleaning products to remove all that black ink from our hands after reading the daily newspaper, may have to file for Chaper 11. The trickle down effect could be disastrous.
    'A little levity' in difficult times for all of us, Jack.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  142. TJ

    The paper is still one of the best sources of local information for smaller cities outside of the local network affiliate and not everyone wants to gleam their news from New York or DC. However the folded paper is obsolete. The ink stains the fingers and carpet, yet it served a dual purpose in an outhouse.

    Increase the cost of the physical paper and make online subscriptions the cheaper option. Create a choice and the monetary difference should gradually migrate primary content delivery to electronic sources.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm |