For the last three Sundays, the Austin American Statesman, the local daily newspaper, has left free copies on the driveway. And as terrible as this sounds, I’m not thrilled about it. There’s nothing wrong with the Statesman, it’s a solid newspaper — though probably not at the caliber of the New York Times.
The thing is, I’m not much of a newspaper reader, at least not anymore. Worse yet, if I were on vacation, like I was last month, I could potentially have a couple of copies piling up on the driveway, advertising an unoccupied house to would be burglars. Not to mention, the need of recycling a stack of paper that pretty much goes unread. Three Sunday editions are a lot of paper.
I understand the predicament of the Statesman and other newspapers around the country. These organizations serve an important function and their jobs support many families. They are caught up in the rapidly changing, technology driven shift. And it’s not only newspapers, it’s magazines and even broadcast television.
Sports has been one of the few bright spots for broadcast TV. But ratings are down too, for the largest sports event of the year, the 2016 Rio Olympics. The drop in Olympic viewership is especially pronounced for younger viewers. Why watch for hours, along with the constant commercials for a 20 second run by Usain Bolt? The results are all over Twitter in an instant and the video on YouTube, if you care. My wife and I actually bucked the trend. We watched more of Rio than London or Beijing.
What’s our most precious resource? Sure, we can all use more money. But I’m guessing, for most people reading this blog, it’s time. The richest person in the world can’t manufacture more time. And because time is so lacking for many in this modern world, behaviors are changing, with the help of technology.
Saving time is key and the internet enables that. Use Netflix and binge watch, on your own time, without any commercials. Directly access news, instead of waiting and flipping through newspapers and magazines. Offering something for free, whether it’s newspapers or broadcast TV is no longer going to cut it. This is the brave new world, like it or not.
Finally, to the dedicated readers of this blog, thank you. Visiting my little world, viewing my photos and reading my stories, competes for your precious time. I very much appreciate your visits.
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