Since 2005, America’s local newspapers “have been struggling” with “roughlyy 2200 of them” folding. .
The conclusions are two-fold, apparently. Private-equity firm buyouts of newspapers might be the answer, but it is totally from a “business perspective.” From an information and journalism standpoint, there is evidence that the move from local news and information by private-equity firm buyouts has tended to cause more polarization in America. People reading national news rather than the local news is attributed for the polarization we can observe every day. This is the feedback we are reading from, as, at the end of The Economist informative article says, “expert analysis.” We called experts as being “drips under pressure,” so I am not impressed.
This is a complex issue which needs to be researched in more detail. But then again, who cares, right? Who cares that the nation is polarized. Seems to me this is more important than the “business perspective.” However, there are better ways to solve this problem for both problems, than just closing down local news which polarizes America. If the number of people seeking local news has declined, then perhaps we need to determine the reasons WHY?
Locally, there is one reason I can observe. Living in a rural county, there is no daily newspaper which provides good coverage for this area, as there was when I was delivering the Binghamton newspaper which is now a part of Gannett, but was not when I delivered the newspaper here.
With this being said, I have to also compare the “business perspective” to the movements under Reagan’s dereglation plans which placed most of business into merger & acquisition (M&A) which caused the loss of many jobs. I hate to say this, but most of those M&A things were done by wealthy Republicans. I lost my job, due to this. I know someone who worked 33 years for a newspaper who lost his job and the partial responsibility for that, in 2008, was M&A within the industry. The writer of this article seems to believe the losses came before the layoffs. But we have observed, as with M&A and layoffs in the utility industry, the decline happened due to money spent on operations other than for human beings, but for technology. For instance, I observed, in Florida, newspaper clipping “morgues” destroyed by costly digital replacements of the “morgues.” For years, such “morgues” were the archives for a newspaper and did not cost as much to maintain. But the “experts” here did not describe this, did they? It’s great that we have Newspapers.com as archival sources of newspapers, but what is available in local content? Nothing. So what kind of return on investment did we actually receive? I don’t know, but I can figure this in a cost-benefit analysis. A cost-benefit analysis was required of me when I automated a corporate library. The CFO was very tough in proving the return on investment for the company. As a result, the company was a “cash cow” and wealthy fat pigs looked at it as ripe for the picking, not due to the production and services it provides in a capitalist supply and demand economic situation. That CFO retired and the “culture vultures,” primarily young Republicans, swooped right in. Then we faced layoffs. I would wager that if people actually looked in detail at what happened with daily newspapers, one would find a very similar situation.
Competition and/or regulation keeps prices low and makes for better products and services. The liars in the Republican ranks which took over the company where I worked, tried to sell everyone on the idea of “creating competition” by eliminating regulation of utilities. Liars, liars, pants on fire. Because what happened was M&A which led to unregulated companies which were regulated by their own business community, not the government. Things had worked quite well before that time, even if things were not perfect at times.
Competition among only those at the high centralized level, as a result of M&A in the utilities and M&A in newspapers and media, by way of unregulated monopolies has reduced competition. The two newspapers which existed when I delivered newspapers as a kid, one Gannett and one locally owned, gave local people a better choice. The locally owned one published op-eds from conservative William F. Buckley, Jr., plus many others which some might say were more liberal. With both newspapers, the ownership had to clamour to do the best it could to sell newspapers locally, rather than looking from the eyes of a satellite in the sky or from the position of a Pravda centrally controlled newspaper as in communist Soviet states. You want a polarized nation? Well then you support a dictatorial Trump who will lead us into a position where we execute those who do not agree, as is done by Putin.
This article in The Economist, sad to say, does not take into consideration economics of capitalism with a supply and demand mentality. I am surprised that no one does. To conclude that “private equity” M&A with a centralized economics “may be helping more than it’s hurting” is really a lainbrained excuse. The claim that it works but only from the “business perspective.” This means, in today’s world, business has no sense of morality and is predominantly run by lovers of money by people who sit at very high positions with plenty of money, power and control. As a newspaper delivery people in Binghamton as kids, we had those who we attempted to compete with because there were two newspapers. My entire work for the Sun-Bulletin was about beating out the bigger circulation guys at the Gannett Evening Press. Gannett was the GOliath, so to speak. But I was able to increase the number of people to whom I sold the little Sun-Bulletin. I would bet I increased my numbers near five-fold. Some might say I am exaggerating. But in the end, I increased my numbers of readers on the east side of the village. It was a number to surpass the Gannett delivery people with routes where the east side of the village was divided into about two or three routes. Had I remained longer, we may have been able to see the Sun-Bulletin route divided into two parts. I know. I was a “newsie” who would sometimes substitute for the boys of the Gannett competitor.
The competition was at the local level, not at the pie-in-the-sky level, as is today. In fact, all of the “newsies” of those days had a capitalist business model which has been destroyed over those years in which the “expert” writing this article proclaimed “the decline of the newspaper industry.”
One local newspaper today is looking for delivery people. A one-page advertisement reads: “Peddling papers isn’t what it used to be…carriers earn $800 to $1200 a month! Plus generous tips!” EARN… not “make money in a business…” Wages. Salaries. Not entrepreneurship as in the days when I delivered newspapers here. I purchased the newspapers in a large bulk at a wholesale price. I had to make sure I sold them all at the retail price which was on the front cover. I was not a risk-taker, so I ordered according to the number of customers to whom I delivered. But there are some guys who, with ambitious goals as entrepreneurship, could purchase more and attempt to sell more, beyond those to whom I delivered. Yup! Today, it “isn’t what it used to be” when people are given wages and not learning how to run business.
THIS stuff today is SOCIALISM but without a government to control the socialism. Socialism is “nationalized” business. The ones doing the nationalizing are not the government, but are those in the centralized control and power and with a love of money. Yet, it is promoted by Republicans, the ones who yell and scream about socialism and they are so ignorant about what socialism really is. In fact, these folks do not even know what true capitalism with SUPPLY and DEMAND, INVESTMENTS AND RETURN ON INVESTMENTS over the long term. They deregulated banks so we ended up with financial situations in which we don’t save and invest for the long term, but grab credit cards instead. And they have also created an environment in which you cancel a credit card and your mince meat. All of this destruction of long-term investment means that homes in some areas increase very quickly, for the sake of greedy, selfish, money-lovers with their instant gratification. Homes in the 1980s increased over four to six years at a rate of, maybe, about 1% over those years. Beginning in the 2000s under Jebbie in Florida and Shrub in the White House, we viewed increases in housing prices about 125% over that same period of time. We saw homelessness increase in South Florida. And we witnessed the decline of the newspapers, as outlined by the writer of this article about “culture vultures” in the form of centralized wealthy fat pigs with their goons of lawyers and accountants doing a nasty job on America.
In the 11th grade history class, we learned that “those who control the media control the minds of the people.” THis article points out the divide and conquer method being used by the Putin and Trump types at the top with their forced dictatorships and puting away anyone who disagrees. The fat that ridding us of local news has polarized Americans really does raise the eyebrows of consideration when the local news is pulled out. There is a locall weekly newspaper here in Tioga COunty. There is also a weekly “pennysaver” press here in Tioga County. But monopoly Gannett does a lousy job in carrying the news of Tioga County on a daily basis. When there were two newspapers from Binghamton, they competed, trying to see who could do the best. I know. I viewed it.
In addition, there was competition for who could provide the best “cultural” information about this region. Many times, the Press would win. But The Sun-Bulletin could sometimes step up to the plate and hit a good run.
There are also solutions, from the business perspective. The money made in newspapers and not even mentioned by the “expert writing this article, is primarily from advertising, not the money charged for subscriptions for readers. It costs money to be able to increase home technology to pertinent levels to be able to read newspapers over a cup of coffee, by way of technology. It is difficult for the visually impaired to read digital copies, unless the technology is vastly improved. So. You want digital delivery? Pay a subscription. You want a print copy? No cost to the subscription. I have actually seen this method work successfully at a Florda newspaper, especially with arrangements on a college campus. The newspapers were gone very quickly. So much for those who claim “no one, especially the younger crowd, reads newspapers.” Sorry to say that, but that is bullshit. And the writer of this article never even considered what free print copies could do. For in this way, the newspaper can claim a larger circulation and thus be able to charge for the advertising, reaching people who might advertise and who would never do so otherwise. Either the price of the advertising could increase or the number or advertisers would increase. Perhaps bost things would happen. As long as newspapers INSIST on paying a wage for delivery folks, then why charge a price for the newspaper? The old-fashioned way was that “newsies” earned their money from PROFITS. OMG! Did I say something terrible with the word, “PROFITS?” How gross and perverted to use such a word. With a profit, too, it allows the “newsies” to determine how to cut overhead costs in order to bring in more profits, especially when gasoline prices are exorbitant. With a wage, they cannot do that.
Bottom line. Let us work to stop the polarization in America. Let us do things like bring back local control of newspapers and media, small local business which often worked by way of selling a product and not nickel and diming folks with the service provided (sometimes not, too – I don’t say this is an endall when there are too many people who do business and don’t follow 18th Century Adam Smith’s ideas for “moral sentiments”).