Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspapers 1996

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspapers 1996

Article excerpt

IT WAS ABOUT 13 years ago, in 1983, that Ted Turner, flushed with excitement about his television ventures, delivered his prophecy before a newspaper convention that "newspapers as we know them today will be dead within the next ten years ... or certainly will be playing a very reduced role." It took him only five years to realize his mistake and, before another group of newspaper executives, retracted that statement as "foolish" and "silly." He said he had very little knowledge of the newspaper business when he spoke earlier.

It bothers us that a lot of newspaper reporters, editors and observers of the newspaper scene seem to accept Turner as the original oracle about the newspaper business -- and never miss an opportunity to comment on how badly off and how doomed newspapers are. They don't seem to know the inherent strength of the newspaper business -- in spite of the disappearance of some newspapers in major markets, the reduction of staffs for economy reasons in some areas, the competition for national advertising from direct mail, and the threats of competition from electronic media. Observers will note that four daily newspapers closed in 1994, five were converted to weekly, there were two mergers of dailies and three new dailies were established for a net decline of eight. Either they do not know, or they fear it will upset their preconceived ideas, that there are more than 1,500 daily newspapers in the U.S. The public buys more than 59 million copies of daily newspapers every day. They buy about 37 million copies of more than 850 Sunday papers. …

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