Is GenY Killing the Globe?

Monday, April 20, 2009 | 1 Comment 

Is Generation Y Killing the Globe?

Newspapers as we know them are in trouble. Most notably the paper that is near and dear to my Bostonian heart, the Boston Globe. Last week, New York Times Co. announced its threat to close the paper down in 30 days if it doesn't make $10 million in cuts from its union. This was sentimental to me in concept, not because I read the behemoth on a daily basis, but because it won't be sitting on my parents' kitchen table any more when I visit. And there in lies the problem, newspapers are old school. 

With the influx of social media, most Gen Y'ers like myself get news from third party aggregators like Yahoo and Google or local Web-based publications like Xconomy. With the quick adoption of online tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it comes as no surprise that the Web serves as a news portal for most twenty-somethings and that newspapers failed at targeting the potential new customers. A friend of mine over at HighTalk Media recently took a (unscientific) poll of 12 people, 24 to 36 years old, asking if they subscribed to the Boston Globe or if they visit Boston.com. Not one person was a Globe subscriber. This isn’t shocking; it’s just the changing of the guard. Out with the old and in with the new.

So do I think the Globe as we know it can survive? No. And I’m not alone. I’ve had several conversations with Wade Roush, chief correspondent for Xconomy and we agree that the paper won't be able to survive in its current form and should focus on its online counterpart, Boston.com. The world is changing and in order to survive, the media has to change with it.

Do you think print publications can survive Web 2.0?  Do you rely on the Web as your news source?

I Guess I’m Just Old School

The Boston Globe has been a constant in my morning routine as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my Dad read it cover-to-cover and I soon adopted the practice at the breakfast table. Through college. Through moves to new cities. Through early adulthood. Now, with two kids myself, I have fun watching how my three-year-old daughter asks for a section so she can read “the paper” just like mom and dad.

I can’t imagine life without my favorite daily. I’m already annoyed when it’s not delivered in time for me to read with my cereal. What if I didn’t get it at all? I’m so attached to my Globe that my husband often joked I had a secret crush on columnist Brian McGrory (it was a sad day when he moved up to editor and relinquished his twice-weekly musings).

There’s something about a print paper that you don’t get online – you get to see the full context of the news in a way the Web doesn’t offer. I like to see which stories make it above the fold, which are relegated to briefs and the sometimes ironies of ones that line up side by side. When there’s a big event, like the Super Bowl or the presidential election, I like to guess the front page headline the night before and see if I’m right in the morning. Sometimes I am.

I understand there’s a generation of 20-somethings who get their news from online aggregators, but I feel they’re missing out on news they may not see if not for a print paper. If you sign up for RSS feeds on just the topics you’re interested in – let’s say sports, entertainment and technology, you risk missing other compelling stories like the seven-part series the Globe did on Ted Kennedy.

While no one debates the benefits we’ve gained from online media – timeliness, a chance for people to voice their opinions more frequently and openly, the creation of sites geared to specific communities, etc. – there’s still a huge need for daily papers, especially ones with the journalistic excellence of the Boston Globe. And, as public relations professionals, we can’t ignore the fact that there’s still something powerful about seeing one’s name or company in print. There’s not a client around who still doesn’t ask after an online story appears, “did it appear in print too?”

Maybe I’m just old school but, as cherished papers close their doors, I feel their passing with a heavy heart. Don’t make me read all my news online. It’s just not the same.

– Question posed by Jena Coletti (follow her @jmcoletti); response by Stacey Mann

{ Comments }

  1. david mann

    April 20, 2009

    Is your sample size representative of the general population? I am Gen X and suspect that many of my colleagues, and folks older than me, enjoy reading the newspaper. Like the counterpoint, I too read the paper at breakfast, and it would be difficult to click around Boston.com while I eat my morning cereal. I am also on the computer for much of the day and it

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