The long-held practice of reading a newspaper from beginning to end, hoping to find interesting articles, has been made obsolete by syndication feeds, search engines, email newsletters, news aggregation sites, all of which let people instantly seek what they want, which is, of course, different for every individual.
Then there's advertising, the business engine of daily newspapers. Maybe publishers could have kept control of their industry if they had been more business savvy, catching on to how the Internet was transforming advertising. But they didn't see quickly enough what was evident to the folks over at Google years before -- that the Web could make advertising much more effective, creating a win-win situation for marketers and consumers. By matching ads to relevant content and reader actions, Internet companies like Google snatched away huge chunks of ad revenue from print newspapers, by showing that job, real estate and other classified ad staples are more effective online.
The results have been devastating for newspaper companies. According to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism's 2009 State of the News Media report, newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23 percent in the past two years. "By our calculations, nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet," the report reads.
The last conveniences that print newspapers can offer, like portability and the superior reading experience that ink on paper offers, will soon be matched and exceeded by devices like Amazon's Kindle.
I still subscribe to the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald, although reading it is not so much something I do to stay informed, as it is a decadent indulgence on a weekend morning, an activity I enjoy that I recognize is no longer very useful.
I believe that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's decision to stop its print edition will become the norm. It wouldn't surprise me if the Miami Herald falls in line soon, considering that last week it announced plans to lay off 19 per cent of its staff, cut salaries across the board, reduce the width of its news pages and end publication of its international edition.
With no Sunday newspaper to read, maybe I'll feel compelled to fold some blank sheets while I eat breakfast and create my own tabloid -- just like when I was in third grade.
As Seattle Post-Intelligencer Managing Editor David McCumber wrote on Monday: "We won't be here to nudge you along in that old traditional newspaper way, so you're going to have to figure all that out, and more, without us."
After all, while print newspapers may disappear in the US, my love for them, I suspect, will never leave me.