Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who killed Canadian newspapers?

A friend asked me today why the newspaper business has gone down the crapper. Off the top of my head, here's my answer:

1. TV took the car and beer ads
2. Grocery ads -- huge, huge earners, were lost to fliers 20 years ago.
3. Department stores -- Eatons, K-Mart, Zellers, Simpsons, Northern, Federation, etc -- whacked by WalMart, dollar stores, etc, which do not buy full-page ads.
4. Help Wanteds lost to 'net.
5. Classifieds lost to Buy and Sell newspapers in the 1980s, eBay and web since then.
6. Real estate ads lost to freebie real estate papers, flyers, now web.
7. Papers became soft, boring, "lifestyle" in reaction. Bad idea. Staffs became old, gentrified, lost touch with young, small town and suburban readers.

It's like a whole bunch of killer competitors sat down and carved up the business.

4 comments:

OJ said...

i think that sums it up pretty well for the paid dailies.

There is still a good amount of life in the free community weeklies.

The Mississauga News still has lots of car ads and loads of flyers and from what i hear makes a high profit margin.

People will still read (or at least quickly glance at) newspapers if you plunk them on your doorstep for free. :)

That being said it will be quite sad if the paid dailies die. Communities/free dailies lack the staff and resources to do the alot of big investigative pieces and the high ad:editorial ratio leaves the newsholes very tight.

Ottawa Watch said...

True.
This is really the most trying time for papers since the invention of the high-speed press.
Recessions kill papers. I dread the next one.

Anonymous said...

The next recession is going to kill a lot more than papers - record consumer debt, people buying 1st and now 2nd homes at record high prices. I think a lot of people are going to get clobbered 5 to 10 years out when they refinance said homes - a 100 basis point in interest rates will be in the neighbourhood of a 20% increase in interest payments. The planets are aligning, and not very nicely...

Ottawa Watch said...

Watch for changes to bankruptcy laws that prevent people from sloughing consumer debt and the differenctial between what a foreclosed house is sold for, and the value of their mortgage. There was an interesting piece on debt slavery in a recent Harper's.