Newspaper Mistake?

More from this show

A new study by two University of Texas researchers shows that newspapers may have been better off sticking mostly with the old fashioned print editions to get the news out. Tim McGuire, a professor in Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will discuss that premise.

 
TED SIMONS: NEW STUDY SHOWS THAT NEWSPAPERS MAY HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF FOCUSING ON PRINT EDITIONS AS OPPOSED TO EMBRACING THE INTERNET TO DELIVER CONTENT. HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS ON THAT IDEA IS TIM McGUIRE, PROFESSOR EMERITUS AT ASU'S CRONKITE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND FORMER EDITOR OF THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE. GOOD TO SEE YOU.

TIM MCGUIRE: GOOD TO SEE YOU.

TED SIMONS: THIS IS A UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS STUDY HERE. IT'S SAYING THAT NEWSPAPERS WENT WRONG BY GOING HEAD LONG INTO THE INTERNET AND NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO PRINT EDITIONS THAT. GOT SOMETHING HERE?

TIM MCGUIRE: POPPYCOCK. ABSOLUTELY NUTS. THE FACT IS, AS MY GOOD FRIEND STEVE BUTTRY HAS WRITTEN AND OTHERS, NEWSPAPERS' PROBLEM, THEY DIDN'T GO INTO THE INTERNET BOLDLY ENOUGH. DECLINES IN THE NEWSPAPER BUSINESS HAVE NOT BEEN BECAUSE OF ANYTHING NEWSPAPERS HAVE DONE. IT'S BEEN BECAUSE OF THE FRACTURING OF THE ADVERTISING AUDIENCE. THESE PEOPLE TALK PERCENTAGES, BUT THEY DON'T TALK THE FACT THAT $47 BILLION WAS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY FROM ADVERTISING NEWSPAPERS GOT IN 2005. 2014, $16 BILLION AND IT'S DECLINING DRAMATICALLY. THIS HAPPENED AROUND NEWSPAPERS. IF NEWSPAPERS HIS BOLDLY GONE INTO THE INTERNET, WE'D BE MUCH BETTER OFF NOW.

TED SIMONS: THEY ARGUE THE PAPERS THEMSELVES, THE PRINT EDITIONS STILL MAKE MORE MONEY AS OPPOSED TO THE ONLINE EDITIONS. TRUE?

TIM MCGUIRE: TRUE AND DECLINING EVERY DAY. AND SOON WHEN SUNDAY SUPPLEMENTS CONTINUE THEIR DECLINE, IT'S GOING TO BLOW UP.

TED SIMONS: THEY ALSO SAID THAT NEWSPAPERS SHOULD HAVE INSTEAD OF MAKING WEB VERSIONS OF WHAT THEY PUT ON YOUR FRONT DOORSTEP, THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE AGGREGATE NEWS CONTENT.

TIM MCGUIRE: SEE AND I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE BECOME AGGREGATORS ON THE WEB. LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE STORY. 1996-97, I PUT FORWARD AN IDEA IN MY NEWSROOM THAT WE OUGHT TO BECOME A GUIDE AND DIRECT. THE INTERNET WAS REAL, AND WE OUGHT TO GUIDE OUR READERS TO THE INTERNET AND DIRECT THEM THROUGH IT. WELL, WHAT DOES THAT SOUND LIKE?

TED SIMONS: YES.

TIM MCGUIRE: THAT SOUNDS LIKE YAHOO! AND GOOGLE. I DIDN'T HAVE THE NERVE OR GUMPTION OR SCALE TO PUT THAT KIND OF THING TOGETHER. THAT'S WHERE NEWSPAPERS FAILED. WE HAD A LOT OF THOSE IDEAS. WE JUST DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH WHEREWITHAL TO MAKE THOSE REAL LIKE BUZZ FEED AND VICE AND ALL THE REST OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE DONE SO COMPELLINGLY.

TED SIMONS: SO THOSE PEOPLE ARE DOING IT COMPELLINGLY. THAT BIT OF THE MARKET IS BEING TAKEN OVER BY THOSE FOLKS. SO YOU'RE A NEWSPAPER RIGHT NOW, AND YOU HAVE LOST MORE THAN HALF -- ACCORDING TO THE STUDY NOW, MORE THAN HALF HAVE LOST ONLINE VIEWERS SINCE 2011. THE IDEA BEING THAT YEAH, IT WAS THERE, IT'S GROWING, BUT IT'S NOT GROWING ANY MORE ONLINE, AND THEY'RE NOT EVEN TURNING BACK TO OTHER NEWSPAPERS OR GOING BACK TO PRINT. THEY'RE JUST LEAVING ALTOGETHER AND GOING TO THE BUZZFEEDS AND THE YAHOOS.

TIM MCGUIRE: WHO ARE RUNNING THE "WASHINGTON POST" EXPOSES THAT THEY'VE BEEN RUNNING THROUGH THE CAMPAIGN? THAT NEWSPAPER WORK IS BOLSTERING THESE OPERATIONS, THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. COULD IT HAVE DONE AS WELL AS JUST THE "WASHINGTON POST" IN A REGIONAL KIND OF WAY? NOT AT ALL. YOU NEED THE NATIONAL SCALE TODAY AND PEOPLE GO ONLINE TO FIND A MENU OF THINGS AROUND THE COUNTRY. COULD A LOCAL NEWSPAPER DO THAT? NOT AT ALL. AND YOU'VE GOT THIS ADVERTISING PROBLEM WHERE YOU'VE GOT A THIRD OF THE ADVERTISING YOU ONCE DID. WE HAD A LOT OF STUFF IN THE PAPER IN 2002. BECAUSE WE HAD A LOT OF ADVERTISING. YOU DON'T HAVE NEAR AS MUCH ANYMORE.

TED SIMONS: SO IF THE RESEARCH SAYS MORE PEOPLE STILL READ PRINT AS OPPOSED TO READ ONLINE, AND I KNOW YOU'RE SAYING THAT IT'S CHANGING ALL THE TIME, BUT IF THEY SAY -- THEIR STUDIES, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, WHAT DO I KNOW? THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE SAYING. COULD NEWSPAPERS RECONFIGURE AND GO BACK TO THAT DOORSTEP MODEL?

TIM MCGUIRE: YEAH. I THINK THEY -- FIGURES DON'T LIE. LIARS DO FIGURE. WHAT THEY WERE DOING THERE IS THEY WEREN'T TALKING ABOUT AUDIENCE. THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT A LOCAL NEWSPAPER READERSHIP AND THE ONLINE READERSHIP. TAKE A LOOK AT TOTAL ONLINE READERSHIP, AND IT'S MUCH GREATER THAN PRINT. IT PALES PRINT.

TED SIMONS: ARE THEY STAYING VERY LONG THOUGH? I THINK THE STUDY MENTIONED THEY'RE STAYING LESS AND LESS IN TERMS OF TIME.

TIM MCGUIRE: THAT'S JUST A LOT ABOUT WHAT WE PUT FORTH. THERE ARE A LOT OF INDUSTRIES WHO ARE DOING AWFULLY WELL WITH DIGITAL. GAMING, PORNOGRAPHY UNFORTUNATELY, AMAZON. AMAZON IS A GREAT EXAMPLE. THESE NEWSPAPERS HERE, I HAPPEN TO KNOW, THE ARIZONA NEWSPAPERS AND WE DID IT IN MINNEAPOLIS TOO. WE GAVE A HIRED LOOK IN THE LATE 90s, EARLY 2000. WE GET TO EVERY HOUSE. WE GET BY EVERY HOUSE IN THE COMMUNITY. WHY DON'T WE DELIVER STUFF. WE NEVER DID. WOW WOULD WE BE A POWERHOUSE HAD WE DONE THAT SORT OF THING.

TED SIMONS: WOULD PEOPLE TAKE, THOUGH, THAT NEWS DELIVERY SERIOUSLY? IF YOU'RE TRYING DO AN EXPOSE AND IT'S COMING WITH A BAR OF SOAP, DOES THE GRAVITAS GET LOST?

TIM MCGUIRE: NO, I DON'T THINK SO. WHEN THE AMAZON DRIVER CAME AND HE'S NOT WITH ANYBODY ELSE, WE COULD HAVE THAT BUSINESS.

TED SIMONS: THEN WHAT SHOULD A NEWSPAPER DO? TELL US WHAT SHOULD WE DO? WHAT DO THEY DO?

TIM MCGUIRE: I BELIEVE YOU BECOME MORE OF A PLAYER IN A CERTAIN KIND OF PICK YOUR POISON, BUT BECOME A DIGITAL PLAYER OF REAL IMPORT. DON'T SIMPLY TRY TO CONTINUE TO BE A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND A LITTLE BIT OF THAT. AND THAT'S WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING FOR 20 YEARS. LITTLE BIT OF PRINT, A LITTLE BIT OF DIGITAL. AND NEITHER ONE HAS BEEN ANY SORT OF AN ANSWER BECAUSE ADVERTISING HAS BEEN TOTALLY DESTABILIZED BECAUSE OF THE INTERNET. I MEAN, TAKE A LOOK AT REAL ESTATE. TAKE A LOOK AT AUTOS. ALL OF THAT'S BEEN DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE TARGETING OF THE WEB. THIS IS ALL A DIGITAL ISSUE. TO GO BACK AND SAY OH, WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED COMPLETELY NEWSPAPER, WE WOULD HAVE BEEN GONE BY NOW.

TED SIMONS: SO LAST QUESTION. WHEN THEY SAY THE TECH-HEAVY WEB STRATEGY WAS A BUST, YOU SAY --

TIM MCGUIRE: I THINK IT'S THE ONLY THING THAT'S KEPT US IN THE GAME.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

TIM MCGUIRE: GOOD TO SEE YOU.

Tim McGuire, a professor in Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
airs Feb. 23

The Highwaymen: Live at Nassau Coliseum

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

A photo of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and photos of his books

Join the all new PBS Books Readers Club!

Shuttlesworth
aired Feb. 5

Shuttlesworth

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: