Liberal newspapers hurtling toward extinction

British scientist Charles Darwin showed 150 years ago that creatures failing to adapt to changes around them become extinct. The Darwinian maxim also pertains to newspapers.

pile of newspapersWe all know the multi-year story about the mass migration of readers and advertisers away from daily newspapers. Newspaper executives and editorial boards flirt with extinction when they misjudge the reasons readers desert them.

Too many newspaper executives want to sing the song blaming their arch-enemy, the Internet media, for the loss of readers and the decline of ad revenues. No question, that’s a big factor. But while there is truth in that song, there is a deeper truth: People are not, and have not, been getting what they want from newspapers. When people don’t get what they want, under the immutable Law of Supply and Demand, they go elsewhere. The Internet is merely supplying what disgruntled newspaper readers are demanding but not getting.

Many of those migrating readers are, for lack of a more precise word, “conservative.” I believe that at least 50 percent of readers in Florida fall somewhere between light conservative to deep conservative. That’s because this state is right of center in its citizens’ political beliefs.

Here’s what mainstream news execs need to know about what most conservative readers believe about most newspapers:

  • A liberal bias creeps into the selection of stories covered by reporters and editorial writers. They seek topics that fit their personal biases, and avoid stories that don’t.
  • Writers are often as much subjective as they are objective. They want the reader to accept their beliefs.
  • Every newsworthy story offers a variety of “takes” or “approaches” that can be selected by the writer. Many news writers tilt or slant their “take” on a story to suit their personal worldview. Too often, those worldviews reflect a liberal bias. Liberals don’t “think” as much as they “feel.”
  • Conservatives believe most newspaper editorial positions serve collectively as boosterism for the leftist worldview. Newspapers highlight or promote a way of life, and opinions, that disagree with the views of roughly half the population.
  • Newspapers keep stale news on the front page if it boosts their political and social worldview. Editors, perhaps subconsciously, sometimes move what should be back-page news toward the front pages for the same reason.

I have long believed that the media’s biggest untapped audience for new readers and viewers is the estranged conservative: the person who values private solutions over government solutions; less government intervention; capitalism over collectivism and state-ism; traditional culture over New-Age culture; responsibilities staying abreast with rights; and family values over “Hollywood” values.

Let’s not leave out broadcasters. Darwin said it is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change. And yet, most newspapers and broadcasters are unwilling to change to attract conservatives.

It’s partly because newspapers and TV have failed to adapt that BIZPAC Review was born and flourishes.

In South Florida, The Palm Beach Post personifies rotten journalistic behavior and is the champion of biased spin. The Sun Sentinel is a better newspaper, which is one reason it now sports higher circulation than both the Miami Herald and The Post, and why it is profitable.

In the struggle for survival, I predict that if newspapers and broadcast media would adopt balanced and unbiased editorial approaches, truly require a factual basis for opinions based on the weight of evidence, stop eternally championing consumers over business and quit presenting opinions as facts, they would see dramatic gains in new readers and viewers. But don’t hold your breath.

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John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
About John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.

  • Big Dem

    I received The Palm Beach Post home delivery for 25+ years and finally quit, not because of the internet, but because I could no longer support their flagrant liberalism with my money for the paper. I have now quit looking at it online because in the internet realm, "eyeballs" is what they use to sell ads to business. Every time someone looks at the paper's website, it gets recorded as a "hit." These hits represent readers and the internet circulation used to sell ads to business. The Post is owned by the utltraliberal, uber-rich Cox family, who are billionaires. That's right: Elite, uber-rich billionaires who give millions to the Democrats. They will not be affected AT ALL by Obama's economic policies. In fact, uber-rich liberals like Mrs. Cox BENEFIT from the policies because it eliminates competition, leaving them the only game in town: Perfect in a totalitarian state that depends on a propaganda machine to help herd and control the masses.

    I simply suggest people NEVER view The Post online and it will die rather quickly. If not, it will cost the Cox family millions to keep this dead paper afloat, which is just as good. I do view The Sun Sentinel now for local news, but rely mainly on BIZPAC for my news. The more "eyeballs" BIZPAC gets, the bigger and more profitable it becomes, and it will replace The Post as the paper of record in Palm Beach County. Let the good times roll!

  • http://Bizpac Ted

    I have had some experience as a reporter and I have always thought that the more news, the better. Print news is struggling because of paper and proccessing costs. To say that these papers are dying because they are not conservative enough is purely wishful thinking. More news sources on the internet mean more conservative and more liberal sources of news. I like BIZPAC because some of the readers get excited about their subjects and even a little theatrical. Reminds me a little of the Cyd Caesar type of comedy. Lots of flash, not a lot of serious answers. But then again, if the answers were right out there, why would we have to write about them.

  • JGP

    I also cancelled my subscription to The Palm Beach Post because of its obvious bias. The paper's main goal seems to involve promoting a political agenda instead of engaging in objective journalism. And I should note that when I lived in the northeast, I used to subscribe to both the Boston Globe and the NY Times Sunday edition, so it isn't like I spent all my time reading National Review or The Weekly Standard.

    John is correct that many "conservative" news sources would not exist if the mainstream media hadn't abandoned objective journalism. The success of Fox News' ratings (and failure of MSNBC) is perhaps most telling.

    Paper and processing costs only explain part of the story. Take a look at the circulation numbers for print and digital media published by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The nation's largest paper, the right of center Wall Street Journal grew its digital circulation by 9.4% since last year. Digital circulation grew by 257,000 which more than offset the loss of 60,000 print circulation. As traditional newspapers increasingly move their content onto digital platforms, we'll begin to get a better idea of what the cost vs. ideology numbers look like.

    Somewhat ironically, the most objective newspaper I've ever read was Stars & Stripes when I was stationed in Europe. The paper's editorial pages would always contain a liberal perspective and a conservative perspective. Maybe this was because the paper's management realized that they would encounter serious political criticism if they didn't take a balanced approach. But either way, it worked.

    I would suggest that newspapers would be far better off today if they hired journalists from a range of political beliefs. As it stands today, there are four times more liberals working in the media as there are conservatives (Pew Research Center) and the vast majority of those in editorial positions are liberals. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of "objective journalism".

  • morstar150

    Interesting that this morning on CNBC they had a new anchor who was from MSNBC. He seemed so out of place while the business analysts and economists discussed the fiscal cliff and its ramifications. Most analysts discussed the Obama fraud of offering revenue increases on the "evil rich people" while refusing to discuss any spending cuts and in fact offering an increase in spending. The MSNBC guy couldn't understand the discussion and kept talking about "projected" savings that had nothing to do with reality.

    When Rick Santelli came on the MSNBC guy went absolutely out of his mind when Rick called the Fiscal Cliff a scam. It was very entertaining. CNBC is a dirty little secret that the rest of NBC's liberals don't know about. They actually have educated conservatives on the air. Let's hope they don't catch on!

  • Chance Hammond

    The prime example of what John is saying is the Wall Street Journal, which is not suffering much at all. And it caters to the conservative reader. The WSJ is the only newspaper in the US that I'm aware of that has an editorial page that actually sells newspapers. None of the other major dailies can count on readers actually buying their newspaper in order to read the editorial page. The WSJ researches its editorial opinions, and there is a factual basis behind its opinions. Defying conventional opinion, the WSJ is not a casualty of the internet, as the size and number of its pages has not shrunk in recent years. The WSJ proves that you can write the conservative viewpoint and remain financially and journalistically successful.

  • http://www.FloridaPoliticalPress TomT_FL

    If I didn't know first hand the arrogance of the Left, I'd caution John not to be so free with the very information that makes conservative web sites so popular. As it is, they'll look right past the gem this imformation presents.

  • John R.

    Tom T, you make a good point.

  • Thomas Dubocq

    The Sun-Sentinal is profitable? It's parent company, Tribune Corp., has just emerged from bankruptcy: (http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/199312/tribune-emerges-from-4-year-bankruptcy-today-with-intent-to-sell-newspapers/#more-199312). According to this report, it will liquidate the SS along with its other newspapers. So much for profitability.

  • Doug Ibbetson

    I live in S.E. Florida and stopped reading the uber- liberal News Press, owned by Gannett Publishing.For many years it was the only option in this part of Florida, but now that the Wall St. Journal is delivered daily I and many others are readig it. Granted , The Journal's editorial page is conservative but their news repoting is objective and not written for third graders. I highly recommend The Journal unless you still really need the News Press as a birdcage liner!

  • Taddle

    The article sounds all nice and good. However the bias of Palm Beach County is liberal. Just look at the last election.. The problem with the post is that the newspaper is not well-written.