Allan Takes Aim Blog

Newspapers: your daily and weekly friend

Posted on: 27 June 2012


From The Chronicle, Canberra. Published every Tuesday
Two years ago I wrote a column rebutting doomsayers who predicted the end of print newspapers. Indeed I think history will show these predictions are silly being of the opinion myself that newspapers like The Chronicle and Times, whether online or hard copy will be read for many years to come.

Before going on let me go back to a couple of millenniums ago when the kings of ancient kingdoms in the Middle East inscribed the equivalent of the modern press release on the shells of scarab beetles. As time passed, the kings started using scribing their message on papyrus. Doomsayers no doubt predicted that this heralded the end of the press releases. If only.

As the process of disseminating information changed over millenniums, what didn’t change was the making of prediction. In fact making predictions became such a bonanza for doomsayers that some of them turned it into a full time occupation. This practice is still practiced particularly by politicians and business tycoons: all you need do is read the papers

Whether or not one believes the predictions of either, their importance tends to be gauged by the rung they have reached on their respective ladders of ambition. But of one thing you can be sure, rarely, if ever, does the politician think the predictions of the business tycoon is right, or vice versa.

This brings me to the predictions about the death of newspapers currently filling newspaper pages. The fact is, over the centuries, newspapers have been born and died and though today prominent newspapers like the Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age might not last in hard copy, I believe community newspapers like The Chronicle (a Fairfax paper) have a long life ahead of them. Some people might say: well he would say that wouldn’t he. But they are wrong because the job losses forecast at Fairfax might mean that I, too, will become a job loss statistic.

But being an optimist that I won’t become a job loss statistic does not change my views about newspapers shown here in a edited reprise of my column “Newspapers have a bright future” (14 Sept, 2010): “instead of being a newspaper of say 40 pages that combines news, sport, science and business etc with supplements, the Canberra Times will have a number of online papers dedicated to particular subjects: Politics, Business, Environment, Science, Sports etc. People will pay a subscription for whichever sections they want with each paper supported by advertisers keen to target the paper’s particular market.”

For example the subscriber Canberra Political Times 24, online would continually update political news and events, a format, I believe, that would lead to more work for journalists. I believe too, that this format would lead to greater competition, better journalism, happier advertisers and happier readers. There could even be a Disability Times 24 that would help everyone in the disability field keep up to date with disability news.

While the dailies will cater for particular markets they won’t cater for local communities. However by cherry picking the dailies and adding local interest pieces, The Chronicle and other free community newspapers could not only remain free and online, but also be more influential than they are today. When this happens, as I am sure it will, the complaint often levelled at The Chronicle and other free newspapers that they carry too much advertising will disappear.

You might not agree but I think the complaint of too much advertising is a bit like complaining about the weather. Many readers complain when experiencing an extended period of high temperatures then complain when an extended period of wet weather occurs. Like most of us, they would be happy if the weather could be switched on and off like an air conditioner. Well advertising is a much the same, it’s either too much or too little.

However, without advertising, how would people be made aware of special events and special prices at the local supermarket? The fact is, local community newspapers such as The Chronicle are integral to informing people about their local community. And that’s the reason, as I said earlier, that newspapers like The Chronicle will be around for a long time yet.
dca@netspeed.com.au
The Chronicle for the best of Canberra’s community news. Published online every Wednesday at: http://www.chronicleonline.com.au

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Thanks for the comment. I appreciate what you say but I’ll stick go words not because I’m not aware of the value of photographs but but because of my limitations in the technology field. I’m sorry you found the ‘Newspapers your daily and weekly friend’ piece boring but others had a different view.
Regards,
Don

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