Sunday, July 15, 2007

Why newspapers are dying

Marshall McLuhan knew more than many newspaper editors do today; namely, that if one wishes to improve a medium, one doesn't try to make it do what other media do better. Instead, one builds up the medium's strengths, the things that make it unique.

Most of the editors I knew at the New York Post and the Daily News did not understand this, and I believe that goes for many editors across the country as well. They thought that the best way to improve newspapers was to dumb them down to the attention span of the TV viewer or Internet viewer, and to offer a similarly ultra-varied, razor-thin news diet, with many headlines and very little substance.

They do not seem to understand that a person who buys a newspaper actually wants something to read, not just glance at. He wants to learn more about stories than he would from TV or the Net.

The local newspaper I've seen that best understands this is, sadly, The New York Times.