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Oct 3
Bad News For Newspapers = Bad News For All Of Us – Especially In Healthcare
Today, Erick Sass of Media Daily News reported on more bad news for the newspaper industry.  In his article he takes a look at the findings of two reports from Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.  Sass says: “Print advertising is declining or stagnant across the board . . . [newspapers will see] essentially flat revenues in the third quarter--a disappointing performance after the industry's promising 2 percent growth rate in the first half of 2006.”

In addition, the growth of online advertising revenues, viewed as a potential bright spot for the industry as people turn to newspaper Web sites to get news and information, is slowing.
Why The Decline Of Newspapers Is A Bad Thing

A lot of ink – online and offline – has been spilled about the decline of the newspaper industry.  Some have lamented it while others have celebrated the humbling of newspaper giants.  Others have used the negative news about the industry’s fortunes to laud the ascendancy of citizen media and suggest that newspapers are no longer needed.  In this post, I touched on this issue, talking about why the debate on the relative merits of “citizen” vs. “official” journalists is irrelevant.

I don’t think that the newspaper industry will disappear altogether.  However, if it loses its potency, I think we all lose – especially in the healthcare arena.  Journalists who are knowledgeable about the healthcare industry provide a much-needed service.  For example, Barbara Martinez at the Wall Street Journal has done a great job educating people about the oftentimes murky world of pharmacy benefit management.  The New York Times was one of the first newspapers to closely examine the benefits and drawbacks of national health insurance back in the early 1990s. 

I would also submit that creators of social media in healthcare benefit greatly from newspapers and other forms of traditional media.  Many bloggers have written about stories that appeared in newspapers, providing a forum for people to learn about the news and discuss it.  This activity enhances the influence and reach of print media, which is something that should be celebrated. 

On a final note, Lexis-Nexis released a survey today that reinforces the importance of traditional media.  The study indicates that people rely on it when they want information on a major breaking story.  The survey also asked people whether they turn to blogs and other forms of “emerging media” for this type of information.  Only 13 percent said yes. 

I’m sure that this study will reignite the debate about the relative value of consumer generated versus traditional media.  However, as Steve Rubel argues this is a false choice.  Both are complimentary and necessary in a world where people are demanding more insight and information about daily events.  Savvy news consumers will turn to blogs and mainstream media that satisfy their needs.  This is yet another reason why newspapers are so important. 

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