In January, the Saturday print edition of The State newspaper in Columbia will come to an end, the publisher announced earlier this year.
For people in Columbia, South Carolina, who love starting their weekends by reading the paper, January will bring a shock. The Saturday print edition of The State will cease toward the end of January.
But make no mistake: it’s not only happening in South Carolina. The State is owned by McClatchy. McClatchy owns more than 30 newspapers across 14 states, and they plan, The New York Times reported, to end every Saturday print edition at their papers by the end of 2020.
That will include The Charlotte Observer, Raleigh’s News & Observer, The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It will even include The Fresno Bee, the company’s first newspaper.
Financially, it makes sense in some ways.
I doubt I’d surprise you by suggesting that print editions are getting smaller. The last time I picked up a copy of The State, or any other longtime daily paper, for that matter, its size shocked me. The papers are narrower and thinner.
In fact, the last time I picked up the “A” section of a newspaper, the first thought I had was, “Where’s the rest of it?” Alas, that’s all there was of it.
Wikipedia has a detailed review on the decline of newspapers:
In recent years newspaper’s weekday circulation fell 7% and Sunday circulation fell 4%, both showing their greatest declines since 2010.
For years now, industry experts have predicted reducing the number of days per week for print editions. They cite the modest rise in digital consumption and the increasing cost of print production.
Years ago, I attended a local talk on the future of newspapers. One of the speakers said the daily newspaper as we know it would go on for at least 10 to 15 more years. It seems like that was close to 10 years ago.
So the writing on the wall seems to be growing more ominous.
But some readers will be left behind.
I have an uncle who is nearing 90 years of age. I have an aunt who is already 90. Neither own computers or tablets. I’m pretty sure neither even wants one.
And in surely most cases, it’s the older folks who have been the longest-running and most loyal subscribers. Oh, the irony.
For people of my generation or younger, no interest in tech might be a difficult thing to imagine. Why would anyone not want the latest tech so they can keep up with what’s happening?
The learning curve today is drastically easier than it used to be. But tell that to some 90-year-olds and let me know how they respond!
In some cases, it’s not that they don’t care or even dislike technology. They just don’t feel, at their age, that they should have to learn something when they’ve been able to get along without it for so long.
I’m reliably informed that even Bob Barker, who turns 96 this month, doesn’t have a computer and doesn’t want one, either.
My aunt and uncle — and probably even Barker — read the newspaper. For my relatives, they check out obituaries every morning and read the news.
Some much younger will raise the classic complaint about preferring the feeling of a physical paper in their hands. Some even find something enjoyable having a little newsprint on their fingertips. But they’ll have an easier time dealing with the adjustment to tech.
For the older folk, this means they won’t have any information beyond what they see on television on Saturdays. One day out of seven is not the end of the world.
But it’s one day for now. It’ll be more in the future.
You can bet on that.