Thank God we’re not Newspapers

According to the Newspaper Industry’s own statistics, daily readership has tumbled from 80% of all adults in 1964 (and even the mid-60’s during the 1980’s) to barely 54% in 2003.

Worse (in terms of readership’s proximity to the 18-49 or 25-54 demo), 43% of daily subscribers are over 54 and nearly 30% are over 64.

Is it any wonder newspapers resort to the most desperate marketing tactics I have ever seen? It’s astonishing to me that any radio station loses advertising dollars to these lackluster behemoths.

I, for example, do not subscribe.

Bang! There, on my driveway, is a Sunday paper – ostensibly “free.”

That, of course, is the blatant psychological ploy of “reciprocity.” Now that I’ve gotten something for free from the local paper, I am supposed to feel indebted and anxious to give something back if that opportunity ever arises.

Wouldn’t you know it, on Monday evening (during dinner time, of course) along comes a knock at my door. Not only is it a child, but it’s a child pitching newspaper subscriptions in order to raise money for his school or some such thing.

Before the “Do Not Call” list, the local paper was easily one of the worst telemarketing offenders. Now, in addition to hiring desperate souls to hawk the paper on street-corners thereby blocking traffic they have taken to tactics that would not be out of place in a TV spot aimed at feeding starving children in Ethiopia.

All of this is a sad state of affairs because it implies that what the newspaper actually provides – what you’re really paying for – truly isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Rather than selling itself to us on its merits and the actual benefits of reading it, such as they are, we are force-fed manipulative marketing tactics that have everything to do with anything BUT the paper’s content.

You could argue, I suppose, that this is no different from the average radio station’s annoying and impossible-to-win contests, but as far as I know no radio station has ever blocked traffic, no radio station has ever come to my door despite being repeatedly told not to do so any more, no radio station has ever called my home to ask me to buy something, no radio station has ever exploited children to achieve its dubious goals.

Long live newspapers. For a while longer, anyway.

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