Last week, I read an interesting bit by Steve Outing in a Poynter Online newsletter. Outing, who is a senior editor at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, wondered in his piece ("Cancel the Newspaper to Pay for Sirius?") whether all the wonderful new and "necessary" services available for a fee in our Internet- and technology-driven world are increasingly putting pressure on personal budgets.
Do the math: How much do you pay for mobile-phone accounts for family members; landline voicemail; Internet service; cable TV service; premium cable channels (HBO, etc.); TiVo subscription; digital "On Demand" services; car DVD-navigation system subscription; DVD subscription (Netflix, for example); digital-music subscription; and so on?
Many of these sorts of services "are tempting enough to figure out how to pay for if money is an issue," Outing writes. "And one way to pay for these digital goodies on a budget is to cut back on something else.
"One possible cut: the subscription to the local newspaper," Outing suggests.
His musings resonated with me. When I read his column, I had just canceled delivery of the daily Boston Globe, having winnowed the list of daily arrivals at my front doorstep from three to one over the previous few years. When I added up the monthly fees, something had to give. And as I told Steve in an email (which he later published), what gave was the print newspaper.
As a former newspaper reporter (for the paper I had just canceled, in fact!), that's hard to admit. But it's not just the money; it's my fractured time and attention and the failure of print newspapers to offer compelling content.
So many days my daily Globe would still be wrapped in plastic on the lawn... yet I was stuffed full of news from online sources. That spoke louder than my pocketbook to me.
Which brings up an interesting shift, says Poynter reader Doug Mashkuri. Web sites have long struggled with how to differentiate themselves from their print brethren. Now, the question seems to be: How does a print vehicle differentiate itself from its Web companion?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Until next week,
Chief Content Officer