Newspaper industry isn't OK, it's much better
Monday, February 11, 2013 9:00 PM
I just spent the last few days at the Hoosier State Press Association's annual meeting. The group gets together once a year at one of the finer downtown Indy hotels. In between visits to the establishment's watering holes, there're some top-notch meetings.
Actually, there are a lot more meetings now than there were back in the day. Seems there used to be a lot more time around those aforementioned watering holes. But I digress. The takeaway from the meetings, at least for me, was how well newspapers all over Indiana are actually doing. Forget the gloom and doom you read about in the state's larger newspapers, us folks outside Interstate 465 and in non-metro areas seem to be doing rather well, thank you.
The problem we all have is the age-old perception vs. reality thing. Because Google and Yahoo and metropolitan newspapers all seem to report that newspapers are dying, people believe it. It's certainly perception. It's most definitely not reality.
Here's the thing. They all seem to be preoccupied with what (let's quit talking newspapers in general and get specific) The Paper does not have. We do not have the texting generation. We do not have the kids stuck in Twitter. We do not have the folks my daughters' ages. Again, let's get specific. My daughters, love 'em with all my heart, aren't out shopping for new furniture, a new car or buying a large home. They don't say it, but they still expect old dad to pick up the check when we go out to eat - and I do. They are typical twentysomethings. They're doing OK. They're working hard and building a great future. They just haven't reached that financially comfortable stage in life yet.
And they don't read a newspaper, not even mine.
In short, we don't have them.
Here's what we do have. There are still a lot of people who read a newspaper. You're one. No offense, but newspaper readers tend to be a bit older, tend to own their own homes - usually nicer ones - and drive nice cars. Maybe not every single one has reached that financially comfortable stage, but a lot have. Almost all of them are a heck of a lot closer to it than my daughters anyways. They buy new furniture. They buy $40,000 and $50,000 cars and trucks. They go out and eat. A lot. They go on nice vacations.
They read a newspaper.
So while I can't tell you where newspapers will be 30 to 50 years from now (I suspect we'll be doing fine in a different format) I can tell you that newspapers today are doing pretty darn well. It was fun to sit in meetings, and even the occasional watering hole and hear this story repeated over and over.
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ON ANOTHER NEWSPAPER note, there's quite a bit of talk about public notice advertising right now. We publish public notice ads, these have information from our local and state governments, that tell you about all sorts of things your government is doing, with your money. We publish these at the lowest rate we have and, believe me, don't make much money at all on them. It's part of our service to you.
Thing is, our good government wants to take them away, put them on governmental websites and let you go hunt and peck for them.
So if you want to know something about the schools, you'll have to head to their website and look. Want to know about a legal notice from the county? Go to that website? The city? Same thing. How about one of the townships? I suppose the county will have that, although honestly I don't know.
Consider this. What if the county does something that will impact your life? And what if the school district in which you live does, too. And what if the good folks at the state government do as well? Are you wanting to go surf a bunch of government websites every day just to find out?
The thing is, do you want to search 12 different government websites?
Ultimately, it's not tremendously difficult to get on a bunch of government websites and look. Sure, it'd be a pain, but that's not what bothers me. It boils down to two things. First, I really want our government to start trying to be more transparent, not less. And second, my grandpa always told me that no matter what anyone says, a situation where the fox is watching the hen house is never a good thing.
If you agree, please tell your elected state officials how you feel. The ones from this area really do try to get it right and they would appreciate hearing from you.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.