When any publication begins, the first thing it does it to seek out advertisers. Advertising pays the bills, keeps the lights on and dictates how big a publication will be in number of pages. But then, that publication has to begin adding subscribers. There will be sales at vending machines and convenience stores; but, subscribers are the constant element that allows a publication to tell advertisers how many people, consistently, they are reaching with each edition of the publication.
In the last two decades, print publications have been fighting a constant battle. It is a battle that involves, technology, editorial viewpoint and habits of consumption.
The first argument is that technology has given us digital versions of all publications, negating the need for paper and ink. However, I've found that most people prefer their books on electronic tablets; but, their newspapers should crinkle when they turn the pages and they should have ink on their fingers when they're done reading.
The second argument is that publications have all taken such polarized stands on social and political issues that their readership has also taken a polarized stand, reading only those materials that support and encourage their personal viewpoints. I like to think that people are much more curious and willing to explore differing viewpoints.
The third argument, and it's one that I fear most, is that fewer and fewer people are actually reading anything, paper or digital. Our modern society has access to more news, more entertainment, more music, more video, more,,, more everything. People no longer pick up a magazine or a newspaper or a book, whether paper or digital, and spend time reading the words that were written by authors, looking at the photos taken by photographers, and slowly perusing the ads placed by businesses.
When I talk to some of our older subscribers, they talk about picking up the paper and reading it from cover to cover. They may have their own process; but, they will eventually make it through all the pages. They start with the front page, then over to the obituaries. They read their favorite columnists, check out who got married or had a baby, and scan the classifieds to find out if there are any deals to be had. They look at the photos, pick out the faces they recognize, read the captions to see what their friends have done, then on to the next page.
Younger readers only pick up a newspaper if they are, for whatever reason, pictured somewhere inside the pages. They will quickly go to the one or two pages that involve them, and then they will drop the rest of the paper, hardly noticing that there are cousins, neighbors, friends, all throughout those remaining sheets covered in ink.
It is a sadness I feel when I see that people are reading less and less. Obviously, it troubles me from a business standpoint that so few younger people are reading as that directly impacts my bottom line. What bothers me far more is that so many people are not bothering to read at all. There are some, I know because they tell me so and I believe them. But, so many people are no longer reading about what's going on in their community, in their state, in their nation and in their world.
Reading requires commitment of time, it requires focus on the material, and it requires effort to make your way through the material. But, the rewards far outweigh the toil required.
People who read are exercising their brains. They are learning something new, whether they agree or disagree, whether they enjoy the material or dislike it intensely. People who read are able to have real discussions with others, they are able to see the world more fully and to enjoy it more completely. People who read have a confidence and an assuredness that shows in everything they do.
Thank you for being a reader, unafraid of what you may find.
It’s all just my opinion.