Letters to the Editor

Some Readers Want to Save Newspapers ...

... While Others are Clamoring for Their Demise

In Case You Missed It


Last week, I wrote about the problems facing the newspaper industry and some possible solutions. I asked for your feedback and I got a huge (and insightful) response. So today I'm going to feature many of the best letters submitted via email and on our blog, http://www.iconoclast-investor.com. If you haven't shared your view on this yet, either send me an email or post it on the blog, where it'll get shared with your fellow readers as well. Thanks for writing in!

"As a kid in the public school system in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the things I'm most grateful for is a grade school teacher who made us read and analyze the newspaper. At that time, it was the Des Moines Register, and it was full of wonder to a young boy eager to learn about the world.

"That schoolwork helped me form a habit of reading, both newspapers and books that has served me well in the 40 plus years since. I still read daily newspapers, including financial dailies, and enjoy them.
"Your article is right on the money. The press is such an important part of who we are in this country that we can't live without them. We must find a way to help them become more economically viable.

"I have only one negative comment, and it is that some of this monetary disaster is the result of the merging of all these papers to the point that most of our news is no longer local. Like politics, all news is local, once you get past the national scope."



"I for one will not mourn the loss of the print media. They have served a purpose, but that purpose is now being better served by other news media.

"I agree that we must have some method of remunerating reporters who will do an in-depth analysis of whatever news story is currently being disseminated, but we should be able to find some less environmentally devastating method of doing this.

"I live in Canada. I have witnessed firsthand the environmental disaster that is paper making: from my hometown in Southern Ontario, through to our northern areas where the boreal forests are destroyed, and our waterways are poisoned.

"I have also found that nearly all news media no longer seem to have the ability of remembering how the issues that are being reported evolved. The back-story no longer matters. A quick and easy handle on the issue at hand seems to be preferred over in-depth analysis, and a thorough understanding of the complexities of the story at hand.

"Stereotypical attitudes and cookie cutter sound bites have become the norm.

"I much prefer the Internet. There is so much garbage to sift through, but careful reading, and a healthy skepticism seem to do the trick."



"I read with interest the article you wrote on the dilemma faced by the newspapers.  But the idea that receiving the news should be considered a privilege instead of a right flies in the face of everything the news industry has been preaching ever since its inception.  Even the grossest of details about the most disgusting incidents are proclaimed on the television and in print because it is the "public's right to know."  That is the reason we can't seem to keep our countries secure because our journalists are always "scooping and telling" and--guess who is listening--the very people we are trying to secure ourselves from."



"Between the pollution as a result of printing, and the destruction of the Earth's forest canopy, let newspapers go online, and keep publishing books."



"Good analysis. It would seem a small monthly charge would be a good plan, but the problem is a small monthly charge is a good plan for the music industry, the newspapers, cable TV, satellite radio, Internet, the list goes on and on and on forever. No one but the wealthy can afford all of the services, and some of them are necessities, not luxuries. Maybe there can be one usage tax on everyone's Internet service, collected by the ISPs and distributed to all of the industries so that included in everyone's Internet will be the access to all of the music, news, movies, etc., that we all would love to be able to view. If we are surcharged to death by every individual industry, I fear that many of the industries will not survive, because we all can't afford to pay each of them individually. It is clearly very complicated and not easily solved, and many industries are not going to survive all of these incredibly new methods of distribution of copyrighted materials."


"I think the answer is Paypal."



"I think that these newspapers are failing because readership is dropping dramatically because the readers do not trust what is printed.  It really is as simple as that."



"Interestingly enough, our local paper (Idaho Falls Post Register) charges the same subscription fee for paper delivery and online access.  Paper delivery also enables online access.  They claim a decent percentage, which I can't remember, of subscribers only online.  Of course they also just dropped the Monday print edition."


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"I, for one, would be most willing to pay more for my daily copy of the Tulsa World. I am retired and, of course, live on a fixed income. However, even if the cost of the paper doubled, it would not destroy my finances. I suspect, maybe I should say hope, that there are many, many more like me."



"I also see the handwriting on the wall. Newspapers will soon be extinct. For an Internet financing model, bill advertisers for "hits" a la Google. It is my understanding that reporting is substantially performed by reporters. They go to the scene of action, school board meetings, fires, congressional hearings and that good stuff we call news. When you are my age, even obituaries are worth a leisurely stop. The local news is important to most of us. After all, gossip is always salable. The dumbing down of our youth (anyone under 60) is one of the causes of our national indifference to high quality reporting."



"I read the newspaper in print for four reasons: The news, captions (pictures, editorials, etc.), ads (junk, employment, cars, etc.), and "games" (cross word, Sudoku, etc.)

"How can I cut out articles, ads, games and stuff from an online site when I'm on a bus, train or simply outside in my back yard enjoying a cup of coffee?

"Please let us support printed materials. I do recycle."



"A mental note I made recently was that if I had a big high definition screen say 40" or more that I could use to read the online newspapers I am subscribed to I would never buy another paper. I currently use my laptop and find only two major inconveniences. I can't see and read the whole page at once, and it's not possible to print or selectively save information as desired; as issued. For portability, as the Internet becomes more and more portable, it's going to be another nail in the coffin for the printed version of newspapers. My conclusion is that advertizing can remain in the current format, and the cost savings of actually printing the paper can be passed on to subscribers."



"Mainstream American journalism needs to be more critical of people that would take away or limit their rights and thereby their industry, than the folks trying to preserve it."



"You are missing the main reason newspapers are failing; they are not a reliable source of honest information. The majority of today's journalists do not verify their facts. Most of the so-called news today is an opinion with a definite liberal slant. Virtually all of the media--print and voice--was rooting for Obama to win the election. The sad thing is the media doesn't think they are biased. By the time they wake up and look in the mirror they will be out of business."



"Your story somewhat misses the strategy planning point of the newspaper business--if ads paid for the content and the newspaper charge paid for the distribution, the distribution is now very low cost (the Web) so the issue is how to move the ads to the Online edition. Google makes a fortune on online ads because it found innovative ways to present, charge and measure their effectiveness--that is the challenge for the newspaper owners--who until now have simply been order takers based on circulation numbers. The revamping needed is to develop marketing approaches for the new medium--just as Cabot does--or it could not survive against all the free investment advice available. There is no entitlement in business, just the opportunity to compete--with the race going to the agile and innovative."



"No, I would not pay for online content, but then I buy a daily newspaper. Yes, I realize I am a dinosaur, but I would rather pay $4.00 for a whole Sunday paper than be nickeled and dimed to death per article. My cost is set. I realize too that I will have to change, probably very soon."



"Why not have congress impose a sales tax on search engine advertising revenue designed to subsidize the newspaper industry. Tax revenues would be parceled out according to circulation. Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft can surely afford this, and a vital American industry would survive."


Again, thanks for writing in, your responses gave me a lot to think about. If you haven't shared your view on this yet, either send me an email or post it on the blog, http://www.iconoclast-investor.com, where it'll get shared with your fellow readers as well. Thanks for writing in!

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In case you didn't get a chance to read all the issues of Cabot Wealth Advisory this week and want to catch up on any investing and stock tips you might have missed, I have links below to each issue.

Cabot Wealth Advisory 3/16/09 - What the Stimulus Bills Means for Green Investors

On Monday, Brendan Coffey wrote about the lessons we can learn from the failings of the British government during the Great Famine in Ireland in the mid-1840s. Brendan also discussed how the economic stimulus package is going to boost the Green industry. And he finished by featuring his pick for the best stock pick likely to benefit from the stimulus. Featured stock: Tetra Tech (TTEK).



Cabot Wealth Advisory 3/19/09 - 10 Tools to Help you Make More Money

On Thursday, Michael Cintolo wrote about why it's important to follow an investing system based on how the stock market actually works. Mike also discussed 10 tools to put in your investing toolkit. He finished by writing about two groups--gold and "staycation" stocks--that are performing well in the market right now. Featured stock: Netflix (NFLX), American Italian Pasta (AIPC), Family Dollar Stores (FDO) and Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR).



Until next time,

Elyse Andrews
For Cabot Wealth Advisory

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