Gone are the days

Newspapers probably thought they never had it easy until they look back now. There was a steady state of deadline pressures and controlled panic: getting out the latest edition, covering the stories without libel suits, getting enough vetting done before going to print, or receiving last minute revelations that change the edited copy dramatically. But there was a lot they took for granted until their game was changed and the goal posts moved.
  • Newspapers had passive subscribers who renewed their subscriptions without a second thought. The paper was always good enough unless it had committed some unforgivable faux pas. The value of the newspaper was not questioned or compared to something else. Subscribers didn't consider shopping around for better journalism or getting their trusted news without ink on paper.
  • The passive subscribers were active shoppers. As some newspapers discovered when they discontinued their coupon sections, the active shoppers value the paper for the ads, consumer tips and money saving coupons. The reportage of international, national and regional news legitimizes what they really hunger for: bargains galore! Print advertisers found the newspapers' subscriber base to be easy to connect with and profit from.
  • Readers didn't expect much and were easy to please. They did not want to express themselves or give their voice about news visibility. They did not want to contribute to the reporting of news or get newsprint that matched their unique interests. They had no concept of active or interactive subscribers beyond choosing subscriber plans and where to have the paper thrown on their properties. They had no desire for the writers to be transparent in their process reporting the news. They did not want to forward the news to friends, add comments to articles or get the news for free. Readers had no problem with professionals acting authoritative and dictating what is "news" for the passive subscribers to accept without question.
  • This large base of reliable subscribers were products of the culture, socialization processes and schooling. There was no costly transition to get readers to be so cooperative and satisfied. The cultivation of their receptive mindset did not require formal training, sales pitches or advertising campaigns. The subscribers expected to be told the news like they had been told what to think in school and what to do on the job.
The newspapers were representatives like the elected representatives in legislatures. They represented the citizens' interests in truth, facts and substantiated proof. They utilized and protected the rights to a free press, free speech and free assembly. The newspapers were relied upon to represent diverse constituencies, partisan stances and conflicted issues. Democracies where served by the roles played by newspapers in communities and nations. The tools were not yet democratized and the readers' expectations had not yet changed. Gone are the days.

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