Does Print Have "One Life to Live?"
A younger colleague told me recently that "only old people" watch boxing and that mixed martial arts (MMA) is what anyone under 30 is into these days. Kind of like what some people think about print newspapers or magazines, I thought.
Then I watched an episode of "60 Minutes" about the demise of soap operas, specifically the end of "Guiding Light," which debuted on NBC Radio in 1937, moved to television in 1952, and was the longest running show of its kind. There now are less than a dozen daytime soap operas left. Sound familiar?
Around the same time, Michael Moore said that he thinks "newspapers slit their own throats" because of greed and losing focus on the community part of the business. I've heard countless reasons why there continues to be a move away from print to the digital consumption of content. Recently, a college kid told me that she doesn't like to get newspaper ink on her fingers but knows she "can't believe everything she reads on the Web." Perhaps she and Moore are right, but the biggest reason—to me, anyway—is still the content itself.
Sure, daytime soap operas relied heavily on automotive and other categories of advertising that have more or less disappeared, but what really has changed since the first episode of "Guiding Light?" On occasion, I'll walk into the room while my wife watches an episode of her favorite soap opera. I see the same characters, hear the same sappy music and catch some of the same storylines.
Today, people are attracted to the unpredictable stories of reality television, whether it's Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, or more recent shows like "The Bachelor," "Survivor," "The Biggest Loser," etc.
Then there's boxing. Any fan of the sport knows that since the days of Joe Louis and even earlier nothing really has changed except that the 15-round championship fight is a thing of the past while controversy often surrounds the outcomes of matches. It seems there are more weight classes and governing bodies for the sport than there are boxers, just like the number of magazine titles or newspapers for some very small markets.
Instead, MMA for the most part just has the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). After political pressure forced the UFC to reform and add some stricter rules, there still are just five weight classes and most of the fights end in a clear knock-out or someone quitting.
I don't always agree with my blog neighbor Bob Sacks, but one thing we will never dispute is the need for publishers to change. If you don't, be prepared for a trip to publishing’s version of the "General Hospital" emergency room where you eventually won’t be able to take it and will have to tap out.