Death Of The Daily, A Long Time Coming?

Jeff von Kaenel, founder and CEO the Sacramento News & Review, has written a thoughtful piece about the death of the daily newspaper as we know it and the future of journalism. But he begins the story by looking back to a California Newspaper Publishers Association event he attended in the 1980s:

I was excited.

I’d been publishing alternative newsweeklies in Santa Barbara and Chico for 11 years at that point and knew dozens of alternative-newspaper publishers. But I hadn’t yet met any daily publishers. I had this idea that they would be like modern Renaissance men – skilled at business, but also well-versed in politics and the arts. Mostly, I thought, they’d be passionate about the role their newspapers played in their communities and in the life of the country.

Boy, was I disappointed. The subject that seemed to rivet publishers’ attention most was golf. And when some of them discussed their newspapers’ operations, things got even worse.

On the whole, they seemed to dislike their employees, especially the union representatives. They described their printing presses as “iron” and the papers as “product.” And the remark I was stunned to hear over and over was something like, “Sure, we support our editorial product – we need to put something between the ads.”

Goes a long way towards explaining the cover story von Kaenel wrote in 1996 predicting that within 10 years most daily newspapers would be out of business.

Found via Romenesko