Print is dead

You know print is dead when politicians stop advertising their campaigns in it.

It’s been said a number of times from “Ghostbusters” in 1984 to a more recent Onion article where there was an obituary under the headline “Print, Dead At 1803.” Now, it’s true — at least for 95 percent of campaigns. Print is, in fact, dead.

Despite its passing, most campaigns from Senate through state House still spend a disproportionate amount of time strategizing about how to deal with newspaper editors and reporters. We would also argue that “earned media” campaign strategy focusing on all media outlets is about to be dead, too.

Before you start ticking off the exceptions, the main point we would submit is that campaigns and candidates have to reassess how much time they put into earned media strategy, versus social media strategy, versus fundraising versus direct-voter contact. We would argue in most races that aren’t for president, almost none of the candidate’s time should be spent dealing with the media.   

This is bad news and we don’t like it. Between us we’ve worked for print, radio, and TV news outlets. Our company was built on our media relations and crisis management skills, as much as our advertising expertise. Today, there just isn’t a demand from media outlets for local political stories. Why, then, should campaigns burn the midnight oil to supply them with content if it’s akin to pushing a rope?

Newspapers (in print and online), TV stations and radio stations have it tough. The news business is brutally competitive and unforgiving. Plus, they have the double whammy of being expected to do public good while making a profit.

Any business in a competitive field struggling to thrive researches their customers and knows what they want.  Voters and consumers have told media management over and over through their clicks and their focus groups that local political stories are not what they want.

Voters and consumers of all demographics are drawn to “if it bleeds, it leads” stories. Crime, catastrophe and scandal get interest whether it’s from everyday people or celebrities. There’s almost no space in newscasts or local news pages for a positive policy idea or coverage of someone trying to improve the community.

And the journalists are tits too.

Market economics kick in again because there are few hard-nosed investigative reporters who cover non-presidential races. An endangered species is a local or national reporter who can still land a punch when they decide to do so. Some have moved on to public relations or consulting. Those who have stayed in media are working for organizations that are neutered. There are some exceptions, but this is the rule.

Neutered or addicted to clickbait.

Print is dead, now it is online’s turn.


– Campaign & Elections


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  • Tiger

    The process of participating in the news and even contributing to it, rather than in days gone by when we were mere passive consumers, is quite exciting. Online is the perfect tool to be an active consumer of news.