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September 05, 2006



My reading habits are like yours. No PC Mag, No Byte, No Wired, No National Geographic, No US News... I do get Business Week, Mens Health and Car and Driver. But I rarely read Business Week. No longer do I get the Wall Street Journal.. I read it all online.

I need a bigger screen.

Ben Langhinrichs

I subscribe to both the New York Times and Cleveland Plain Dealer on a daily basis (just PD on Sunday), but no magazines. I get a great deal of my news on-line, but prefer the "real" newspapers both for the physical joy of reading while I eat breakfast and because it is easier to share with my wife and teenage kids when there is a paper in hand.

To be fair, I never really subscribed to magazines much, except a couple of counter-cultural ones many years ago.


Like a very bad car accident you drive by slowly, shocked by the blood and gore, there's actually two near-fatalities on the information superhighway today:
1. Traditional journalism. The mood of most newsrooms today is one decidedly gallows humor. There are approximately one half as many reporters in America today as there was a decade ago. Reporters are caught between the desire to glitz up the news, the need to dumb it down for an increasingly undereducated market, and their corporate masters who demand ever-improving profit margins forever and amen.

2. The second casualty is the idea of local. Local hasn't been doing too hot for about the last hundred years, but the Net is providing the final nail in coffin: I have more in common with people in the UK, New York, and hundreds of other places than I have with my next-door neighbors. And I can get a hold them quicker.

Newspapers are a sinking ship; the captains of industry still refuse to see the icebergs ahead. The big question is whether reporters are going to go down when the ship, or realize that they no longer need newspapers to do their job.

Mathew Ingram

I certainly don't read magazines much any more (outside the dentist's office), especially tech, and even newspapers are becoming more infrequent. By now, I know that if there's an interesting article in the New York Times or elsewhere, I will pick it up in my feed reader because someone will mention it and/or link to it. As for Mohr's suggestions, I'm not crazy about the Switzerland idea, but his general take on things seems about right -- I've used the frog in a pot analogy myself more than once.


Before 2000- I read three newspapers, 2 business magazines, and 2 technology magazines semi-regularly.

Now (based solely on RSS feeds I review regularly) - I read 4 UK newspapers, 3 Canadian newspapers, 4 sites from other media news sources (those with TV alternatives), 4 technology magazines and 4 other magazines very regularly - like daily.

So although I used to get a lot more paper cuts before, my eyes hurt a lot more now.


I get what I need online. The local newspaper delivers the Sunday paper and I read the real estate section.
I am no longer held hostage to editorials with an opposite political stance as mine. I can pick and chose from my MyYahoo reader which story or editorial to read but lately I find more satisfaction reading blogs.
The papers are dead but just don't know it yet.
I believe the Switzerland idea is the only way they can hope to win the audience back. They do know their local market and they have an advertising base second to none. They will have to incentivize to get me back via coupons, freebies and other free services.

Gerald Buckley

By the time the pubs arrived at my office or home... the news was all but played out online.

MikeM is right... the patient is dead and just doesn't know it yet.

I think the model is slowly (and painfully for the print-minded) turning a new, more efficient leaf. Once the print consumers are flushed from our ranks (die or convert) then it will fait accompli.

Remember Expedia magazine?... Died pretty quickly didn't it? Terribly hard to break out with a new pub. Terribly easy to break out with a new site (or 20, or 200...) and build readership online.

Alfred Thompson

I buy magazines pretty much only to have something to read on airplanes. I do get a lot of magazines at home but they are all membership magazines. In other words I get them because I belong to an organization. I don't see that changing too soon. I think that a lot of people like that tangible reminder that they
I read one newspaper - a weekly from a town 200 miles away - to keep up with what is going on in my home town. They don't put enough of it on the web site to make it worth reading there. I am not convinced that the Internet does local well yet.
I do see magazines and newpapers going off the shelves in stores though. There seem to be newspapers being dropped off at people's homes as well.
Technology news has moved to the web but I am not so sure that much else has yet. Or event that it will. TV news is more passive than the Internet. On the web you have to think about what to read next while the TV people are happy to feed things to you in the order they think is best.

mark evans

i still read lots of newspapers, although it would be more accurate to say i skim through them, and pick up a few stories to actually read. like you, i consumer a lot of news, features, etc. online through web sites and RSS feeds. one thing to keep in mind, however, is "techies" (and i use that term loosely) are not representative of the general public, which is to say there are still many people reading newspapers and magazines.


I get all of my news online but most of the sources I read are from traditional outlets, that is, old-line newspapers and magazines that have online portals. I trust the infrastructure and ethics of these news gathering entities. Basically, journalists have a criteria for reporting that is not met by a lot of other "online just for fun" and posting whatever rumor comes out first, johnny-come-lately with a computer and a Web-building class. Blogging is hot right now and it is unlocking the real power of the Web. But what are the demograhics here?

But the trends for print pubs have been apparent for a long time. If you want to spot the real trend, don't look at circ. numbers. Look at display and classified advertising dollars (you did). This trend was evident when I got my first journalism job out of college in 1989. Yahoo, Craigslist and Google are setting the new trend.

Now I'm in PR and it is exceptionally hard to find expanding tech books to pitch stories to. Yet all my clients want to get their stories in print first-online second. We could get a 28-page story online, but the client is most likely only going to react to the print piece, even if it is only two or threee grafs. The intrinsic value of print is undeniable and can't yet be duplicated by the unstructured online world.

Yes, print needs to re-invent itself for a new audience. Newspapers are run by old-line thinkers who won't let go of traditonal revenue streams. Now online entities are eating their lunch. But aren't we losing something in the process?

Jeremy Toeman

I'm down to one: National Geographic. I totally enjoy everything about reading it, and I find it's the one magazine whose content cannot be replicated by a Web page...

Stowe Boyd

I still read the New Yorks Times pretty religiously: 5 or more days a week. But I have a number of old school habits.


I get all my breaking, news online, and lots of niche analysis, BUT nothing comes between me and my paper subs to the New Yorker and The Economist, magazines I have and hold, whose contents I read at a slower, more thoughtful pace and think deeply about.


the form factor of an electronic device for reading anything longer than 5-10 minutes is intolerable for me. Nothing will replace the ability to hold a document, periodical, or book in my hand and read it, refer back to it, annotate it. Throw it in the corner for future reference. And as Abigail said, the ability to read something at a thoughtful pace is irreplaceable. That is virtually impossible to do "on line". And I think contributes a lot to the misinformation that gets passed around so rapidly in the "blogosphere". People skim though a post or article quickly, think they have groked it, link, post, and move on, then wait until someone points out the error of their ways.

And there is no way I'm EVER taking my PC device into the bathroom!


It's all about informational content. The delivery distribution mechanism is secondary. Magazines have and will continue to be a great format for longer form editorial content. Magazines are a more laid back environment - there is often a deep emotional connection between the readers and the product. Online site are about immediacy. They are fast paced – news, pricing information, immediate access to data etc. As publishers of the world's leading IT media brands such as Computerworld, Infoworld, Network World, CIO, PC World, Macworld – IDG is excited about total readership growth among our IT properties. We continue to evolve our sites to provide the connection between buyers and sellers. There is no doubt that our emphasis is more on the online properties but print still has a great role to play in certain markets. We work with our key customers to ensure we deliver the correct product for the market.

Kevin C. Tofel

Don, you're spot on. 95% of my news is from RSS blog feeds and on-line social aggregation sites (Digg, techmeme, etc). The few magazines I actually still subscribe to are digital editions simply because I can store them without wasting closet space, plus I can annotate them or even clip them with notes into OneNote, Evernote and the like, which makes them searchable.

Print served its purpose, but its time is moving / has moved on. We're content-driven consumers now more than ever before and web-based content suppliers are the long term winners here.

For the record, as someone who reads at least one book per week and blogs about 1k posts a year in addition to a full time job and family, I now read more than ever before. Why? Flowing and current content is more readily available and consumable. The daily (or even weekly) paper was good enough for my parents, but I demand more.


I liked BoardWatch back when BBS's were cool. I liked WIRED back in 1994 before it became a gay fashion magazine. And Business 2.0 was cool, but now it's a website ;-)

Now I only scan Techmeme.com a few times a week for top stories.

Don Dodge

Thank you all for your comments. I always learn a lot when readers take the time to comment.

My headline was meant to draw attention and spawn comments and interaction. The future is rarely binary; live/die or succeed/fail. Trends march forward. Some companies react and adapt quickly, some evolve slowly, and some don't make it.

People predicted the end of movie theaters when VCRs and DVDs became popular. People predicted doom for the record labels when Napster and other file sharing services emerged. Now we are saying that magazines and newspapers will die. Some will die, but many will adapt to online properties. Others will downsize or right size commensurate with their smaller audience.

The lesson for entrepreneurs is to remember who your customer is and what they really want. We live inside a tech bubble and many of our customers do too...but certainly not the whole market. Web 2.0 companies need to design products and services for the mass market...not just those of us who live inside the bubble.

As they say in the fashion industry "design for the masses with fat asses...that is where most of the money is".

BTW, Kevin Tofel, who commented above, has an awesome site focused on mobile devices. http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/
I had never seen it until I followed back his comment here. I always read every comment and trackback and follow links back to see where people are coming from. I always learn a lot from people who stop by.

BTW2, the comment above by cocc is the SVP of IDG Communications, the largest technology publisher in the world. He knows a LOT about tech magazines.

Michael Urlocker

You are not alone... Newspaper circulation has been falling steadily for 40 years.

In fact the data is so compelling, we identified newspapers as the number 1 industry facing disruption on our top 10 industries under attack list published earlier in the summer:


More on the media meltdown and what traditional media companies can do about it:


Bryan Alexander

I read everything newspaper-like online, and don't have any more print subscriptions. A few content and aggregations sites I read each day, plus 300+ RSS feeds, in addition to what's sent or indicated to me via various means, such as email, IM, and community fora.

Although I read most of The New Yorker on the web, I buy an issue every few months for medium-length plane flights. When I'm on the road, I buy the Sunday NYT.

Adam Herscher

I read dozens of blogs, but still subscribe to a few print magazines - namely Business Week, GQ, Details, and a couple others. Additionally, I often pick up others at airport news stands - The Economist, Business 2.0, and others..

I spent a large portion of my life in front of computers, and sometimes it's nice to just pick up a magazine.. while waiting for a plane, while outside at the park, at a coffee shop...

Strangely, I enjoy glancing at magazine ads, whereas I hate web ads. Go figure.



The only Paper I consume on a regular basis is Wired Magazine, Business 2.0 and Forbes. My company pays for them, and I'd not do it otherwise.

Dimitar Vesselinov

Print magazines and newspapers? I have seen them in the museum. I subscribe to 8521 feeds. RSS or death! Also, my father doesn't read any print news.

Markus Egger


good post. I read it with interest.

I think you are wrong on the newspaper vs. magazine thought though. Newspaper by their very definition deal with news, and by today's standards, news are old after a few hours. Newspapers are not fast enough anymore.

Magazines on the other hand do not just deal with news. Of course, IF a magazine deals with news, then they are hopelessly outdated. But Magazines are also dealing with stories, analysis, how-to's, and much much more. When Money magazine writes about understanding a certain kind of investment (say a REIT) then it isn't outdated a week or a month later the way yesterday's news are.

Also, people like to take a quick look at the news in the morning by checking some web site. Most magazines are aiming more at the "lean back and relax" audience.

Nevertheless, I am a believer in online mags as well. In fact, as a publisher, I am betting my business on it. On the other hand, I do not believe that old media is ever being replaced by new media. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it relatively recently (http://www.markusegger.com/blog/Development.aspx?messageid=bac14310-5a96-4e9a-8e6f-bfd6b019ff37).

David Phillips FCIPR

in the UK the challenge to the big circulating (mostly women's interest) magazines is niche competitors who take circulation.

But the key issue at present is the three legged donkey that we get served up with by the on-line publications.

Words on a screen or flash or intrusive layout and how does this transfer to mobile devices, digital posters, interactive digital TV.

The publications have a long way to go and those that stay behind thier subscriptions and firewalls are really working at the margins.

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