Via BoingBoing, a lecture by veteran print journalist Tom Stites who explains why “less affluent Americans have abandoned newspapers and are angry at the press.”
When I was breaking in as a reporter, … The newspaper I worked for wanted to sell papers to every household in the area. They wanted 100 per cent market penetration, or as close as they could come to 100 per cent. In 1962 and 63, when I was a police reporter, dailies everywhere wanted 100 percent market penetration. …
Now fast-forward to the late 1980s. … 40 percent market penetration is the goal, not 100 percent, and that The Trib cares little about 60 percent of the people who might be its readers. And these people are the men and women in the bowling alley. Why doesn’t The Trib care? Because these days nonaffluent people shop at Wal-Mart, and advertisers like Lord & Taylor and stores that sell fancy wines don’t want to pay for circulation among people who can’t afford their wares. It’s as simple as that.
Now almost all metro dailies want only the affluent readers. Everybody else is what advertisers call “waste.” So publishers simply ignore the interests of the bowling alley set, or write about “them” only as statistics or as the objects of debates among economists and policy analysts. I am absolutely confident that it takes these “waste” readers — more than half of all Americans — very little time perusing their metro daily to see that reading further is a waste of their time.
He goes on to give some funny example so the ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ reporting which has so turned me off to the New York Times and many other print newspapers.