There’s an old riddle: What’s black, and white, and read all over? Because people who hear, rather than read, it will think red not read, many people who’ve never heard the riddle before don’t come up with the answer which is, a newspaper. Today, thanks to technological advances, newspapers are suffering. Black, and white, and red still means a newspaper if the red is the kind of ink most of them buy by the barrel for their accounting departments. It’s no trade secret that the NY Daily News has been bleeding money for years. Recent reports say the paper loses more than $20 million a year. The owner, Mort Zuckerman, has been trying to sell it for quite a while, without attracting a buyer who’ll pay a price he can live with.
Within the past week, the NY Daily News laid off a huge number of its brand-name writers, the people who made the paper what it was. Sports columnist Mike Lupica has a lucrative contract, but reports say he’s gone as soon as it’s up. Eight other sports writers including Filip Bondy and Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Madden are gone. So is David Hinckley who has covered broadcasting for the paper since I was a broadcaster, music writer Jim Farber and others. When historians said a Roman legion was decimated, they meant one of ten members was killed. This is worse than that.
In fact, laid off is really the wrong term for it. Laid off used to mean that when business got better the company wanted to hire these workers back. The Daily News has fired the writers who created its personality, most of what its remaining readers bought the paper for.
I did my little bit to help. I have it delivered to my house on a daily basis. My wife still reads it, but I hardly ever do. Like so many people these days, I get a lot of my news and information from the Internet. I certainly don’t have an answer for the Daily News. Even in a city like New York where almost everyone commutes to work on public transportation and people used to read newspapers on the subway, circulation is falling. People have their noses buried not in a paper, but in a phone, an iPad, some other tablet, or they’re listening to some kind of MP3 player on ear buds. Ad revenue for newspapers has sunk too because basically all auto, real estate, movie and classified advertising has moved from daily newspapers to the Internet. A lot of people who used to work at the NY Daily News don’t anymore. It won’t surprise me and I’ll be sad when it happens, but I think pretty soon nobody will be working at the Daily News and what was once New York’s largest circulation newspaper will be no more.