Whether someone is 60 or 20, they cannot miss the radical change. There is simply so much more to do these days. For a small investment, it is easy to be entertained in a multitude of ways for large swaths of time. However, days continue to be only 24 hours long.
This is why the recent streaming deal between Netflix and Miramax should be troubling to anyone at a newspaper. The reality is that a rapidly expanding roster of contenders, more than ever before, are all vying for timeshare which has not expanded at all. Two hours a day and ten dollars a month spent on Netflix is time and money that cannot go to anything else. But who could say no? For less than the price of a movie ticket, subscribers get access to a panoply of entertainment. Or how about Kongregate or playing Angry Birds on that new Android phone? A consumer can spend hours playing these games without even having to pay for them, a rather attractive prospect. Then throw in television, music, commuting, eating, sleeping and everything else, and how much spare time and money is really left to read the New York Times every day? No wonder so many let that fall to the wayside and just read headlines off Google News or some other RSS feed, if they even bother going that far. Journalists are lucky that these consumers still bother to watch the news on broadcast stations.
Further, newspapers are limited in scope. They have to be. The notion of attempting to have one physical newspaper that chronicles every conceivable story in a day is ridiculous at a number of levels. But online, there is a blog or news site for almost anything. Take Modernmethod’s Tomopop, a blog website that collects news for hobbyist toy collectors. The writing is often amateurish, ripe with errors and poor style, and the subject is niche. It is not something likely to ever grace the pages of the New York Post, but it gets over 300,000 monthly unique visitors, with a majority in the young male demographic. Those are readers, eyeballs and potential ad dollars that will not be buying a newspaper for that information. Of course, there is a blog for news about the cartoon industry, Japanese animation industry, video games, frozen foods and a host of other subjects. And for each of the blogs linked here, there are numerous other ones, all equally free. Newspapers simply cannot compete with this.
Newspapers have to deal with the limits inherent to their system, and the reality that the success of anything else is a direct blow to print journalism. It certainly is not an enviable position. Just remember that when you read about the next Call of Duty being massively successful, newspapers and the entire entertainment industry feel the sting.