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.

John R. Smith

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.
John R. Smith

Comments

20 thoughts on “Liberal newspapers hurtling toward extinction

  1. Don't Blame the says:

    Blaming the Internet is a poor case for the failing newspapers business. Readers still subscribe to magazines to obtain information about products, services and entertainment because few magazines get involved in politics. By playing politics, newspapers manipulate people's opinion on behalf of failed economic, social and political causes (liberalism and big government). Therefore, intelligent people will invest to obtain information where they can get good "return in investment". Newspapers is the worse investment and no sane person uses newspapers to find product or services because the quality of the information provided by newspapers (ad) is poor and almost irrelevant (this is where the Internet eats newspapers' lunch — marketing.).

  2. Rich says:

    Have a Happy New Year Everyone. We can do it. There are solutions for those willing to work together.

  3. Ted says:

    Happy Year to All- With all the dust this site kicks up, I actually learn something. A lot of you are wrong, but, then again, a lot of you are right. Maybe our brains aren't shrinking after all. Let's keep up the discussion. Lots of fun. Peace to all of you, even the hard heads.

    1. Rich says:

      Agreed

  4. Michael says:

    The Palm Beach Post is an anti semitic rag that even many liberals find offensive with its constant Jew hatred.

    Local newspapers are dying because they are written on the level of a high school newspaper with their reporters just rewriting what they saw on MSNBC. For local newspapers to have value they would have to hire competent reporters who would investigate local news issues such as corruption in the county commission, incompetence in the school board etc. Instead at best they just rewrite press releases.

  5. John R. says:

    Thank you Rich. BIZPAC Review will be even better in 2013. More and wider coverage, more original content, more writers

  6. John R., I agree with you wholeheartedly…the liberal bias is a forgone conclusion in the mainstream media – both print and broadcast…it's a shame because much of the media has something to offer but they undercut their own credibility by continuing on a constant leftward slant!

  7. With their income receding, newspapers answer by increasing their prices, reducing their services and ad sizes, putting ridiculous pricing on placing ads, and adding liberal bias in such amounts as to insult any conservative readers. And they wonder why they are failing? Even the funnies aren't "funny" any more!

  8. b says:

    really? WSJ? maybe 2 decades ago – before the News Corp bought it. Now it's just another Murdoch scandal rag.

  9. b says:

    Really? liberals don't know about CNBC? I was watching it when you were in diapers. I happen to like it, Haines, kernan and baritomo, the reporters, although I don't buy the economic philosophy, and haven't watched much since Haines passed on. The interviews with the narcissistic CEOs are boring, as are most CEOs. Liberals ("free-thinkers") generally do not worship these guys as if they were royals or celebrities – they may or may not merit the position, some are ruthless and sociopathic, many have inherited their status and many are incompetent fossils. The casino called Wall St is legalized gambling and brokers are glorified "bookies". They're not evil – they're just crooks. And mighty lucky that what they do is still legal. enjoy the system while it lasts.

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