The great recession, it seems, goes on. While I don’t like statistics as morality, and I hate how much this stuff lends itself to inane talking points in politics, this was just striking. I saw it on CNN Monday: Family net worth plummets 40%. The illustration is by CNN, and sources are cited in the small print.
The piece says:
The stunning drop in median net worth — from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010 — indicates that the recession wiped away 18 years of savings and investment by families.
I’m not an economist so I don’t draw conclusions. I am a skeptic so I question the statistics, always; but this seems hard to dispute.
And we see it, don’t we? Aside from the politics? People out of work, people looking for jobs, people sticking to jobs they hate. The great recession of 2007-09 dropped 10 or 12 millions out of the economy, out of work. Millions of them are still down looking up. No wonder growth is down and sales sluggish.
As the newspaper business seems to die slowly, I console myself with the idea that journalism isn’t dying with it. The Huffington Post is booming. The New York Times will bring in about $350 million this year. The new iPad shows us how we can spread the paper in front of us with coffee and a newspaper in the morning. There’s hope. They capped the stupid oil spill overnight. Maybe they’ll cap the journalism spill too. Eventually.
I wish I knew who I’m quoting here, but I don’t. Somebody mentioned this quote to me recently:
I don’t care about newspapers. I do care about journalism.
What if news didn’t come on mashed-up trees? What if it came online instead? What if the iPad is the future of the daily newspaper? I can still sit with my coffee and page through the news. Sort of.
Can we survive with a few big online news organizations, but no newspapers?
In that case, who’s going to cover the city council meeting? Who’s going to spend months doing investigative reporting? And who’s going to pay the salaries of the people spending months on investigative reporting?
Meanwhile the Huffington Post, by far the most successful news business of the last half decade, is paying journalists full time incomes to develop the news. They have a handful of their own correspondents. That’s not the answer to those questions, but it is a start.
And, then, without hesitation, I signed up for both the apps mentioned, Apollo and Pulse, to go with my New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and SkyGrid. So it’s not like I won’t have news. And local news? That icon in the lower left of my iPad picture above is the Eugene Register Guard, which is my local newspaper. Now, as long as the local paper can figure out how to survive on its online revenues … sigh…
No, I’m not suggesting the iPad is the big answer or magic solution. It’s mostly just a good illustration. This is a long-term change of worldwide news landscape, and the iPad is significant here because this is how things are going to be. The iPad will have good competition soon enough. Let’s hope it does, and that the competition generates money for news organizations, so that the journalism survives.
Interesting juxtaposition: while much of the world worries about where we get real news, and particularly investigative reporting, iPhone users are up in arms about CNN charging less than $2, once, for an iPhone app that includes ads.
CNN’s new iPhone app is creating quite a stir. First of all, they’re the first major news site to have a paid app ($1.99). Secondly, they’ve included ads in it. Users are in quite an uproar over this. They wouldn’t pay for something with ads in it!
There’s no doubt that the iPhone world is new and strange. I have an iPhone myself, and I love it; but how did $1.99 for an application end up as expensive? In what world? Maybe I’ve been in software for too long. Megan (disclosure: she’s my daughter) adds:
Yet, what about newspapers, magazines, television, and increasingly games? We constantly pay for media that includes ads, and we don’t even think twice about it.
Meanwhile there’s a lot of real worry about what’s happening to journalism, and especially investigative journalism, as newspapers and magazines fade. Within a click or two of that same CNN-iPhone-related post on Huffington, there’s this post in which Arianna Huffington frets over the debate over online news, another about whether the New York Times should charge for news, and yet another titled What Google Can Do for Journalism. I posted about that here just a couple of months ago.
On The Huffington Post, meanwhile, they took a Quick Poll on how people feel about paying for an iPhone application with advertising in it. Almost half the respondents said no: “If I pay for an app, I shouldn’t have to put up with advertising.”
I’m not saying that iPhone users shouldn’t worry about a couple of dollars, but … no, wait a minute, maybe that is what I’m saying. Skip a cup of coffee, once. Not that I even like CNN, but if nobody can figure out how to pay the reporters, we’re not going to have Journalism. I can imagine a world without newspapers, but a world without Journalism would be a lot worse than that. If saving Journalism (note: not newspapers necessarily, but investigative reporting) takes some ads, I can deal with ads.
So I just bought the CNN application for my iPhone.