Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mary Baker Eddy Goes Paperless

The final daily print edition of the venerable Christian Science Monitor hit the stands four days ago. They haven't abandoned traditionalists entirely -- there's still a weekly edition.

A little item rarely mentioned in this context (and one I would not have known if an old friend had not ended up in the job) is that the purchase of newsprint is the largest single item in most newspaper's budgets. It is somewhat speculative; buying the right amount at the right price at the right time -- or failing to -- can make the difference between profit or loss for a newspaper. Some guy or gal you've never heard of, who does not own, publish, edit, report, sell ad space or lay out pages can make or break the Local Whizbang Daily. And maybe that is a little whack.

--The flip side is, a print article is well-nigh impossible to alter once it's hit the streets, while on the Web, "Make it didn't happen," is altogether too easy. There are ways around -- Google's caches, if you're fast, sites like Wayback Machine if you're not -- but none of them are as accessable or as solid as last week's paper.

Time marches on, often in ways few saw coming. What's over the horizon?

Update: More and better on Why The Newspapers Died from print journalism insider Joanna.

8 comments:

Turk Turon said...

I wonder how the failure of so many newspapers in such a brief period is going to affect the price of newsprint, pulp, paper products, wood products, forestry products, even land prices.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing! Remember, not long ago, the "green" movement to use car-scrap steel 2x4's to save "our forests"? With all those carbon sinks left standing, we'll have an ice age in no time...

In the 70's, two construction unions had a bumper-sticker war. First out were the cement masons (an ancient and secretive lodge) with "Save Our Forests-Build With Masonry!"

By the end of the season, the carpenters' trucks (Karen was the skinny one) all had "Support Your Local Alcoholic--Build With Masonry!" Good workers, those guys, but hypocritical? Jeez.

Anonymous said...

Huh.

I live just down the road from the birthplace of Mary Baker Eddy, and I didn't know who she was...

Regards,
NMM1AFan

Joanna said...

What have I been saying for the past three weeks? ;-P Ink and paper are, no doubt, the biggest expenses; go to the printing press and you'll see whole warehouses full of nothing but two-ton rolls of paper and 55-gallon drums of ink, packed wall-to-wall and stacked half-a-dozen high. And you thought your printer was expensive.

Turk makes a good point, too. Most newsprint comes from tree farms planted specifically for that purpose. The wood'll have to go somewhere.

Joe Huffman said...

Mary Baker Eddy... I grew up as a Christian Scientist (I'm an atheist now). MBE teachings had a big impact on me (not all good). She got some things wrong but you have to admire her accomplishments as woman at that point in history.

I'm all for getting rid of paper as a media. Mother Nature's majestic trees shouldn't be ground into pulp, imprinted with ink that probably won't be read, then used to line birdcages or dumped in a land fill. Those trees should be made into toilet paper so we can wipe our asses with it.

Anonymous said...

No offense Joe but she got a lot of things wrong.

What's an amazing, win-the-bar-bet glitch in US popular culture is that a newspaper that had every right to be a weird, tin-foil-hat rag became, for a generation, one of the most accurate and fairest bastions of old-fashioned Real Journalism. Who'd a-thunk?

Nathan Brindle said...

"Those trees should be made into toilet paper so we can wipe our asses with it."

Newsprint is so thin today, almost all they'd really have to do is slice it into narrower rolls...

reflectoscope said...

Most of what is printed on it would be improved too, or at least not badly harmed.

Jim