The big news today is the news of the Honolulu Advertiser being bought by the owners of the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Times are tough for the print media these days. The Internet has brought loads of “right now” information to your fingertips. Most of it is free, and most of it is micro targeted to your specific interests. Newspapers can’t be that. And they could never do that, mass appeal is what they need for a mass market. Newspaper are businesses, businesses that sell advertising. Oh sure they collect a little for each copy, but I’d bet ya dollars to donuts that it doesn’t cover the cost of printing & distribution, much less provide a profit. When was the last time you bought something from a ad in the paper, not the glossy Sunday ads, I’m talking about those pages at the back of the section. The black & white simple ads offering a used sofa for $50, call this number. Did you find your last job through a newspaper ad? Chances are you didn’t do either, but rather used services like Craig’s List or Monster.com. Good resources, but they take away the lucrative ad placements from newspapers.
So is this just another example of a product going through it’s life cycle? Is the traditional morning newspaper in the end of it’s life cycle? Newspapers have had a long product cycle run. Don’t think so? Look at cassette tapes. You bought one last when? Do you even have any? How about CDs? I know people who have gone completely digital and no longer have a single CD or even a player (outside of the optical drive in their computer). Times change. Things come and go. Some quicker (CDs), some take longer (newspapers?). I’m seeing my own business eroding away because of the product cycle.
I grew up in Chicago, a town that was blessed with three daily newspapers. The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, and the Chicago Daily News. When I was a kid the Daily News closed down to the utter shock of all in the city. Much like Honolulu, every family had it’s preference. Our house favored the Tribune, my Aunt & Uncle preferred the Sun Times. Today I prefer the Advertiser. The fact that it’s the larger format like the Tribune of my childhood is no coincidence. I heard recently of the financial woes of the Tribune…seems my favorites are suffering right now.
My immediate reaction to the news of the sale of the Advertiser was a feeling of sadness for the 300+ employees who will no doubt be going through some big and probably hard changes in the next few months. The only question is who it will be…some from both papers, all of one, or the other…no one knows yet.
These times are definitely changing. I won’t say for the worse…because as far as I’m concerned, we are far from the end of this cycle of change. Let’s see where it lands us, let’s see how we can make it good.