Print media decline… Detroit News & Detroit Free Press

The news came first on the radio driving to Marshall last night on my trip back from CASE V in Chicago… ironic perhaps that I’d just that morning done a “Writing Right for the Web” workshop that holds up direct marketing and journalism as two precursors of an effective web writing style.

The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News (two parts of the same corporate conglomerate) will end most home delivery of the newspapers next year, citing increased costs for fuel, ink, and news print. And, no doubt, continued shrinking of the advertising income.

Just a symbol of the economy in Michigan? Hardly. The news report quoted a high level person whose name escapes me now that it was time to get heads out of the sand and take a major step in recognition of the changing ways that people get news.

Then came an email from David Anger, editor of the Free Press, to home subscribers, citing two major reasons for the change:

  • “First, the newspaper industry must completely transform its way of doing business in order to survive. With generations of readers and advertisers using digital media more and more, we simply cannot continue to bear the cost of delivering the ink-on-paper newspaper every day.

    “Second, we need to invest in new ways to deliver information digitally, whether on our Web site or on the mobile devices so many people carry now. The changes we’re announcing will enable us to do that. We need to move even more rapidly into the digital age.”

And so the transformation of how we get our information continues, away from print and toward the online world. These newspapers may be leading the way on the home delivery front, but others certainly will follow.

For college and university marketing, the change highlights the ongoing shift away from newspaper advertising and toward organic search optimization and online advertising.

I’ve read the Free Press since arriving in Michigan in 1973. Always, right after the front page headline, the comics were the first attraction. But that’s changed within the last few years, as the size of most strips was reduced to tiny print matching shrinkage of the page size of the paper itself.

Life will go on. Major news headlines will appear each morning as the laptop comes to life. And there’s Yahoo2Go on the smartphone for headlines anytime, anywhere when the connection works.

The Free Press editor’s message to subscribers is 

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