Where Does It Fit In?

A couple of items for the why-didn’t-they-do-that-sooner file.

The Washington Post tells me that they will soon be eliminating the business section of the daily paper.

They aren’t dropping business news (which might be better for the collective national psyche considering the past year), but simply folding it into the main section.

However, the important part of this change for the Post’s bottom line is that they are dropping the multi-page stock listings, a mainstay of financial sections in the past, and replacing it with a simple summary of market statistics.

It will save the company printing costs but I’d say they’re at least three years too late with this move.

Anyone interested in the stats on a particular stock probably hasn’t been waiting for the Post to be published to get the information. Such data has commonly been available from any number of web sites, usually in a more useful format.

The paper is also trimming back on the television listings. But not far enough.

Most likely the only people who refer to the Post for what’s on TV are those who still have an antenna, in which case the paper only needs to print listings for the few local stations.

Cable and satellite subscribers have far better interactive guides on the screen itself, some of which even make recommendations based on past viewing. Who needs an unintelligent, static paper version that’s updated once a day?

Which points to a major reason why newspapers are going under: who needs old, unintelligent, static news delivered once a day? If it came with some insightful, unique analysis and a little wisdom, maybe that would enhance the value.

All of that ties into another recent story about how most high school journalism classes are still clinging to print as their primary means of publishing, although some programs are slowing beginning to move into online media.

While innovation is generally slower to happen in education than it is in the news media, maybe students in these classes can figure out the right balance between print and the web in time to save the industry.

I must admit that I still enjoy scanning through the newspaper delivered every day. Sometimes I actually prefer paper to screen.

However, it’s not the necessity in my life that it was even a few years back. And I can actually imagine a time in the future when I really won’t care if the physical newspaper is delivered each morning.

The fact that a large and fast growing number of people have already arrived at that point is exactly why the Post and those budding print journalists had better figure out their place in the world – and quickly.