Coffee mug rings
As I watched ESPN commentators unveil the BCS top 10 football teams in the nation, I cheered and clapped loudly alone in the living room of my apartment. I then realized something. “Statistics don’t lie,” the commentators preached. “Auburn’s stats pushed them to the top.” Statistics may not lie in football, but they must be lying when it comes to newspapers. It’s true. Last year was the worst year in decades as far as newspaper ad revenue goes. The last time advertisers spent so little was 1986. Over the past four years, print ad revenue has plunged 47 percent. But, does this mean newspapers are going extinct? Not exactly. The very principles that this country was built on rely on the fundamentals of democracy. Free press falls into this category. Yes, newspapers check the government and inform communities, but that is not all. Walk into any coffee shop, diner or dive in the morning, and you’re bound to see one thing, or maybe even two or three. Sitting at a table in the corner, quietly sipping or stirring or spilling, is someone thumbing through a paper. There is most likely a ring from their coffee mug in the corner of the section they’re least interested in. They might be wearing reading glasses low on their nose, straining to
read the print, line after line, column after column. Sure, they could be reading the same thing online, but it wouldn’t be the same. Their mornings would be colder without newsprint spread wide across their table, flopping loosely in their hand as they struggle to find the jump from B2. Plus, who knows what a coffee mug ring might do to a laptop.
Right now, it might feel like newspapers are skydiving, and young reporters are desperately searching for the ripcord—any way to save the profession they chose and love. As papers are plummeting from the sky, being pushed faster and faster by citizen journalists, decreasing ad revenues, the Internet, those of us who want to write and report for a living are coming up with whatever we can. Social media? Sure. Pay walls? Bring ‘em on. Blog experiments? The more, the merrier.
But all of us know nothing can or will replace the newspaper.
Published on Dec 2, 2010
A column on the future of journalism through my eyes, how we as an American society can never replace the newspaper and it's important place...