Let’s wait for those earnings reports before declaring the resurgence of newspapers, OK?
Two of the nation’s leading newspapers are claiming either circ growth or profits, claims that some media reporters are blindly accepting, possibly in search of cheery news
The holiday season appears to be the time when some fill-in for vacationing media reporters and are tasked with creating copy. That’s OK, I guess, I’m all for letting news writers have their chance – that certainly happened to me. But still, let’s not take these stories about the resurgence of newspapers too seriously this holiday season.
One report says that The Washington Post’s news that it will be hiring in the New Year is “a sign of remarkable growth.” Since the Post is privately owned – and by someone who as CEO of Amazon is known for their vague and numberless sales claims – it is doubtful that anyone will ever be able to confirm the claim that the paper is in the black. I actually doubt it, but if it is then that is truly good news.
But whether it is making money or losing money, the news that it may be hiring is not a sign of profits, plenty of companies run in the red and continue on, especially if privately owned.
The same report repeats the claim by the NYT that it has seen a surge in digital subscriptions. I tend to believe this one, but am skeptical about how long many of these new subscribers will be hanging around in the New Year. The NYT has heavily promoted its digital subscriptions, and discounted them, so like many magazine companies that discount their subs, the circ numbers may be going up, while other numbers are going down. (It always surprises people to hear that a title has folded only months after it bragged its circulation was climbing.)
In the end, the earnings reports will tell the tale.
Yes, I’m skeptical about all claims about the resurgence of print media – after all, I’ve heard that ever since the early days of the web. It was frustrating to hear such nonsense from publishing professionals back in 1996, so it is not less frustrating to hear the nonsense now.
But it is the holiday season, and some reporters are getting their first chance to see their own bylines, so let’s be generous. Congratulations, you’re a published reporter.
But a word of warning to the rookies: some of those bylines will be cringeworthy when you look back at them. My first story, a two sentence report on a freshman football game, is hardly something I am proud of today (I didn’t name a single player or described a single score, it was as if I was never there). Proclaiming the rebirth of print is not something you will look back on with pride, believe me. Others have done it, too, and then gone on to become digital editors (the most pro-print, anti-digital reporter I’ve ever read, went on to become a digital editor at the Boston Globe, and no one really holds it against him).