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Arnold Kling has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT; founded, one of the very first commercial websites, in 1994; separated from Homefair in January 2000 after it was sold to Homestore; is author of Under the Radar: Starting Your Internet Business without Venture Capital, and is an essayist. Send comments to us at

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March 04, 2004

News of My Death, Reprise

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Posted by Arnold

I wrote about the coming death of newspapers quite a while back. One of my points was that the decline in young readership spells doom. Vin Crosbie has more data to buttress that view.

Minnesota Opinion Research Inc. (MORI), presented data showing that young adults are increasingly less interested in newspapers. Scarborough Research found that 44.6 percent of young adults read a newspaper each weekday in 1996 but only 38.5 percent did in 2001.

MORI found that 39 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds read a newspaper daily in 1997 but only 26 percent did in 2001.

Lots more data like that in the full article.

I'm also not at all surprised by this:

The newspaper industry has spent billions on the Internet to create online editions that are read by fewer people, less frequently and less fully than print editions. These online editions haven't helped newspapers attract younger readers, and most of them are a financial drain on the newspapers that support them.

Crosbie's recommendations have some merit. This one...

opening the walls of those newspaper companies' vertical integration and inter-syndicating their and other companies' content right down to the story level.

...even sounds like what I was saying in The Club Vs. The Silo.

But I don't think you can teach the dinosaurs to survive. The decline will be long and slow, and in fact the slowness of the decline will be what makes it impossible to bring about change in the industry. A sudden crisis might bring a creative response. Slow death won't.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: economics of content


1. Kelly on March 5, 2004 01:57 PM writes...

As a young adult, I modestly think of myself as being as being as least as, and probably more, informed than most of my peers about world events and generally newsworthy items. But I don't remember the last time I picked up a newspaper - I know it's happened at some point in the not-so-distant past, but who knows when.

And when I do have access to a newspaper, and get around to reading it, everything in it seems like, well, like old news. I read about pretty much everything in there yesterday afternoon or night on the web. Newspapers don't break stories anymore, and between the instantaneousness of the web, and the in-depth analysis pieces of magazines and journals, what real niche does that leave for newspapers?

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2. Vin Crosbie on March 6, 2004 04:25 PM writes...

Arnold, I unfortunately agree with your conclusion.

Vin Crosbie

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3. MiC on June 30, 2004 01:37 PM writes...


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4. Theodosius on July 6, 2004 04:03 AM writes...

Join the Linux community.

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