Strong opinions, weakly held

Obituary for a career and an industry

Washington Post reporter Stephen C Fehr writes about leaving the newspaper after accepting an early retirement package:

When historians look back at the challenges that American newspapers faced in the early years of the 21st century, they will no doubt center on how the Internet competed with newspapers to deliver information. They will chronicle the declines in circulation and advertising revenue that led so many news organizations to trim their staffs. In The Post’s case, the newspaper lost $77 million in print advertising revenue last year but gained only $6 million in online advertising revenue.

I hope the historians will also write about some of the people who were swept aside by this revolution in technology. People like me.

All I ever wanted to do was work at a newspaper. When I was in second grade in Southern California, the boys would play kickball at recess. Afterward, I would draw a nameplate, headline and box score on a sheet of paper and write an account of the game that I would pass around in class.


  1. It’s not a failure of the business model of newspapers, it’s the failure of the newspaper company management being too clueless to see the winds of change and adapting to what the market wants.

    I recall arguing with small town newspaper owners as far back as 1995 and 1996, telling them they needed to put their newspapers online and all I got was a “Ha ha, stupid kid, go away” response.

  2. Out with the old and in with the new. Never before has it been so easy to publish, nor so difficult.

    The first website I can recall visiting was for the San Jose Mercury and their coverage of the 1995 NCAA tournament coverage. It’s a shame that the current publishing revolution is coming at the expense of the old school newspapers. We already see the music labels struggle to adapt, how long before television and movie studios start seeing problems?

    It really is an exciting time to be alive. Just think of the advances in the past 15 years and try and imagine what the next 15 will bring.

  3. Another reason for the decline in newspapers is related to this post of yours from a few days ago. Newspapers are really good at in-depth reporting, but the market for that has declined in general.

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