During my morning scroll through my Twitter feed, I ran across a rather interesting piece by self-published author Catherine Howard. But before I delve into that in a later post, let me make a quick point. In days gone by, people would get out of bed in the morning, make a pot of coffee, walk out in the driveway or to their mailbox and get their copy of the morning paper, sit down at their table and read all the news that was fit to print. I used to do that myself, even in high school, I’d often buy a copy of USA Today on my way to school.
Now, however, things are much different. I still wake up (usually), I still brew some coffee, but instead of getting the daily newspaper, I grab my cellphone and pop open Twitter. I spend about the same hour or so I used to reading the paper, but now I simply scroll through the feed of tweets I’ve meticulously cultivated over my three months as a newfound Twitter fan.
I’ve got news, events, commentaries, sports, entertainment, publishing industry news, etc, etc all right there in an ever-increasing rolling list, many tweets complete with links to long-form articles or additional information. Very few of what I read comes from traditional newspaper websites, either. What’s more, I can comment on anything that strikes me right at that moment, I can pass along the best of what I find through retweets, and I can even communicate directly with whoever created the tweets or the underlying work. I’ve done all three this morning, just as I do every morning, and when I’m caught up, I can happily go about the rest of my day. And the one thing that never crosses my mind anymore is stopping somewhere along the way to pick up the daily paper. It’s all the more reason to believe newspapers as they’ve existed are well and truly in their final days.
Which brings me to this: Also this morning, I ran across an announcement that the Baltimore Sun will be locking everything up behind a paywall on October 10. To this, I say good riddance. The Sun has been in a steady state of decline for as long as I can recall, long before the industry itself dropped into the current free-fall. When I was working for a Chesapeake Bay boating magazine about 10 years ago, we had a subscription to the Sun. Eventually, we just let it lapse because, even though we covered the single largest, most important body of water in the state, whose economic effects exceed nearly everything else in Maryland, the Sun provided absolutely zero news or information of any consequence or value whatsoever. In other words, it was a giant waste of money.
In the years since then, I can count the number of times something in the Sun was a topic of discussion. That number is slightly less than two. In the past two years alone, since I’ve become very web oriented in getting my information, I have come across a matter of import from the Sun or its website exactly zero times.
The Sun faded into irrelevance years ago. This news about the paywall is the first time the Sun has crossed my mind in I don’t know how long. When I read about the paywall this morning, my immediate thought was, “Are you kidding me?” The Sun has produced absolutely nothing of significance for years now, and you wanna lock up all that stuff that nobody cares about behind a paywall?
And I am a voracious news consumer living in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay not 45 minutes from downtown Baltimore. How about trying to become relevant to Marylanders again, by going out on a limb and produce a product worth a damn. Then you might actually have something to sell.