Friday, June 19, 2009

How Many (White) Men are Getting Married?

Recently, several bloggers have challenged my assertions that fewer and fewer (White) men are getting married. They cited the GSS Data, available here as evidence that I was wrong, that White Men are getting married at the same rates now as before. The Inductivist and also Audacious Epigone have used the Web Tools available at the Berkeley site to conclude that there is no evidence to support that Men are not getting married, or delaying marriage, over time.

Having downloaded the data myself, I can only conclude that so far ... they're wrong.

[For those interested in replicating my results, the following is how I did it. Those uninterested may skip this section.]

Downloading the data, (I used the 1972-2006 data set), with the variable AGE (age of respondent), YEAR (year of survey), MARITAL (marital status, 1=Married, 5=Never Married, etc), Sex (1=Male, 2=Female), RACE (1=White), plus of course the always present CASEID, you get a nice text file you can load into MySQL. To make things simpler, I added a constraint in the file created and downloaded, and specified only White Men (SEX=1, RACE=1). Loading this into MySQL gives you interesting results. [I wanted to look at White Men only, avoiding race and class, and looking at what most observers believe the most stable and unchanging group of men in the US.]

One of the things that struck me (and this is why you CANNOT avoid looking at the data in raw form) is how small sample sizes are for White Men in the Age Ranges. For example, the SQL Query

select year, age, count(*) as Num_Age from gss_marital where year = '1975' group by age with rollup;

gives you this output:

YearAge# of Respondents
1975 724

The last row is of course the rollup row, showing there were indeed 598 White Men interviewed in 1975. That might seem like a lot, but look at the data at a more atomic level. Only 7 53-year olds, and only 10 54-year olds, in 1975 were interviewed. Your data is only as good as your sample size, and for each age, the samples can be appallingly small. The problem of course is randomness. Can we be sure that for the very small sample sizes for each age, survey takers got a truly random sample of White Men? Much less repeating it for every year? Given that the survey ran from 1972-2006 (I did not use the file with incomplete 2007-2008 data).

select year, count(*) as Num_Men from gss_marital group by year;
select year, count(*) as Never_Married from gss_marital where marital = '5' group by year;

Will each get you the total for each year of all men (all ages), by year, and then the total for all men, all ages, who were never married (MARITAL=5). I've dumped that into an Open Office Spreadsheet to get the following:

[click Image to Enlarge]

Wow. Just for laughs I tried the following:

select year, count(*) as Num_Men from gss_marital where age > '34' and age < '41' group by year;

select year, count(*) as Never_Married from gss_marital where marital = '5' and age > '34' and age < '41' group by year;

And got the following graph (once I loaded it into OpenOffice)

Therefore, it certainly looks as if the data suggests that AT LEAST White Men are getting married later, which would certainly make the "Never Married" status stronger in surveys. The data is not inconsistent with that hypothesis, at any rate. How good is the GSS Data? Not particularly good, given questions about small sample sizes for White Men, at each age, and just how random the selection of the survey takers was, but it is one of the few social surveys we do have covering considerable time periods. We certainly see a fairly consistent rise in "Never Married" over the years, which matches the increased cost for a family, given rising housing prices, and the decline of real wages, in terms of house-buying at least, since the 1970's.

Just as important however, may be the changing expectations of women with respect to marriage. Sandra Tsing Loh, the NPR commentator, writer, and performance artist, has a revealing column in the upcoming Atlantic Montly, which I will be posting on later. It certainly seems among professional urban women, marriage has undergone redefinition. Akin to more of a short-term contract offered to NFL free agents, than anything else.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Advertising: Where the (White) Men Aren't

Thanks to reader Patrick, for the e-mail tip on the Jawbone "viral marketing" ads. While the ads themselves (originally on the Jawbone website, since pulled but still available on YouTube) are odious, virulently (anti White male) racist and sexist, that they exist and generate many positive comments on YouTube is indeed telling. What is absent from television and nearly all marketing is men. Particularly White men. At least in so far as White Men being the target of sales efforts, instead of mere reflexive hostility.

Below are a sample of the Jawbone Ads, created for the web as part of a "viral marketing" effort:

White Guy in Asian Dry Cleaner (1.1 Million views):

Noisy Guys in Pool (2,478 views):

Noisy Rugby Players in Bar (133,917 Views):

Responsible Marketing did not think much of the ads. Culture Buzz loved it. Top Rank Blog thought it was stupid and offensive. thought it was brilliant (because it was a White guy getting murdered by an Asian family).

But what is striking about these videos is the message (all directed by Music Video Director Samuel Bayer [Green Day, Garbage]). The message is that White Guys are terrible, and deserve to be killed, or better yet, turned gay. The video play on the hatreds towards White men by Women, Blacks, Asians, and so on.

Yet ...

Who is the biggest market for Bluetooth headsets? Why yes. White Men.

The older Black man sitting in the Dry Cleaner, ignoring the murder of the obnoxious White male customer? According to the Wall Street Journal, Middle Class Blacks are 40% of the Black population. Blacks themselves are 12.5% of the population. Thus the Middle Class Blacks are 5% of the population, and the Middle Class Black guy just sitting there ignoring the murder of the White guy is 2.5% of the population at best. While it may be quite typical for White women to wish that annoying White guys "turn gay," the gay population in the US is estimated at between 2.5% to 3%. While it's difficult to estimate, women remain a smaller technology buyer segment than men, though single women are increasingly more important technology buying segments, they still trail single men in buying technology, particularly cutting edge consumer electronics.

There isn't much payoff in terms of gaining new customers for new consumer technology like Jawbone's "Noise Assassin" bluetooth headsets by making the largest buying segments the targets of either "turning gay" or death by sharks or angry dry cleaning staff.

Indeed, the implicit message, being an obnoxious White guy gets you turned "gay" or killed by Women or Black Guys is pretty negative. It's one more example of the total failure of Advertising and Marketing to reach White Male consumers. Since the marketing people are so filled with hatred for those very same consumers.

As more and more men and women do not marry at all, or delay marriage well into their thirties, and high divorce rates equal lots of single people, a strategy of relying only on White female consumers and non-existent Black Middle Class consumers (or gay ones) is bound to fail. White Men remain about 50% or more of the potential consumer base for everything from consumer electronics to cars. Single people, whatever the cause, means that at least half of all household purchasing decisions will be made by Men. Most of them, White men.

These ads show how the entire creative culture is oriented around the desire to erase White Men from existence. By either wanting to "make them gay" or simply kill them. Such a culture, oriented in a rough coalition of women, gays, and non-Whites who all oppose the existence of White Men, cannot exist for much longer without a great deal of cultural and political strife. Indeed, the opting out of male viewers from Television and movies is only part of this trend.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rock is Dead: Rolling Stone and the Lack of Young People

Rock is dead. Or, more to the point, the youth culture that created rock music is dead. Because we don't have enough young people. Not enough at any rate to create the kind of robust, competitive, and creative youth market that characterized the course of Rock music from the 1960's through the 1980's. For anyone seeking proof of that, simply examine the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

[click Image to Enlarge]

This isn't unusual. See the site Magazine Death Pool for the betting line on which magazines will cease publication. Note that Blender, which ceased publication in March 2009, had on the cover such rock "artists" as Kelly Clarkson. Meanwhile, the current Rolling Stone covers such cutting edge youth concerns as Obama's Energy Secretary saving the Planet, stories on "Mad Men," "Entourage," "True Blood," and "Weeds" (all skewing heavily female, and older, mid forties or later). American Idol's Chris Daughtry, and Willie Nelson are featured, along with the shocking news that American Idol's Adam Lambert is indeed, gay. Lambert of course poses on the cover as a seductive pop tart, reminiscent of Rolling Stone's 1990's era cover featuring the edgy, youth-oriented Britney Spears (pre-meltdown, pre-Federline).

None of these features, stories, photos, or series of covers screams youth orientation, and of course nearly every bit of content skews heavily older and female.

This is because America's most scarce resource is young (White) people, who drive Rock and other aspects of youth culture.

The short story of 20th Century demographics would read something like the following. In the 1920, prosperity and an increased supply of youth (born after the turn of the Century in good times) created a youth culture. Increased prosperity also led to more babies being born. Then the Great Depression ended the Youth Culture, followed by WWII, which made teenagers who turned 18 in 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945 (born in 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927 respectively) into adults very quickly. Youth culture did not return, until the post-War baby boom and rising incomes created it as in the 1920's. Starting with first toys and then music, youth markets exploded. The Davy Crockett craze, and toys, were as important as Elvis. For example, Hula Hoops came on the scene in 1957, along with Frisbees. Kids who were ten or eleven in the 1950's, entered their late teen age years and early twenties in the 1960's, and drove the youth culture, from music to fashions.

But, births became radically reduced in the latter half of the 1960's. Rising costs of living, declines in real wages, ending of restrictions on abortion, contraception, and the belief in delayed marriage reduced fertility and births every year starting in 1965. During the 1970's, this reduced fertility (as families were also hammered by a poor economy) only increased, recovering somewhat in the 1980's, only to fall again in the early 1990's during the recessionary period, and the high cost of housing in the inflationary period of the latter 1990's and early 2000's when the Dot-Com and Housing bubbles drove prices in urban job centers (mostly on the coasts) up past affordability for many families.

This has left marketers, publishers, creative people, pundits, and many others in a mental prison. Their model of how the world works (there is always more young people, and a large group of young people drives an ever changing culture) is at odds with the reality: there is an ever smaller supply (of young White people) who are the engine of youth culture, and this lack of young (White) people is the chief cause of the decline of youth culture in all areas.

While it is true that internet piracy, decline of the CD as a sales medium for music, and the growth of low-cost online sales of mp3 versions of music on sites as diverse as Apple's Itunes store and Amazon's own online offerings have seriously diminished the money rock artists (and everyone else) earn from recordings, live performances are still lucrative.

It's still possible to make (considerable) amounts of money from rock music, by touring and performing live, where fans will pay considerable amounts of money to see favored artists. It's interesting however to see just who ranks in live performing revenues.

The 2004 Rolling Stone Rich List has for example, James Taylor making about the same amount ($20 million) as Eminem. The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and the Eagles are the top three performers. In 2007 Miley Cyrus earned a combined $64 million from concerts and music sales. But no new artists like Elvis in the late 1950's or the Beatles in the mid 1960's are earning this amount of money, from either recording or touring. Cyrus, working the tween girl market, made close to the amount that the Eagles did in 2004 ($63 million for the Eagles vs. $64 million for Cyrus).

As an aside, it's interesting that while musicians can make money from older fans (the Stones, Springsteen, the Eagles) or young tween girls (Cyrus), there's little evidence of any performer who can draw young White men in appreciable numbers to be competitive with the top revenue earners in pop music. Young men seem completely absent from popular music.

The 2000 Census data can be found at that link, while the 1990 Census data (for White Alone) data can be found here, while the 1980 Census data (PDF only) can be found here.

Here is the graphic version of the 1980 Census:

[Click Image to Enlarge]

Using the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census, I've constructed the following table.

2000 1990 1980
Under 5 years 12,859,892 13,649,490 11,789,394
5 to 9 years 13,944,882 13,616,268 12,200,468
10 to 14 years 14,322,638 12,853,558 13,699,871
15 to 19 years 14,167,148 13,342,703 16,138,482
20 to 24 years 13,064,891 14,523,912 16,541,315
25 to 29 years 13,501,773 16,638,544 15,262,799
30 to 34 years 14,818,786 17,351,513 14,143,721
35 to 39 years 17,031,493 16,081,606 11,290,738
40 to 44 years 17,265,995 14,506,390 9,408,654
45 to 49 years
15,810,626 11,585,703 9,034,158
50 to 54 years 14,213,875 9,504,871 9,812,613
55 to 59 years 11,107,247 8,968,416 9,990,620
60 to 64 years 8,945,842 9,211,123 8,813,447
65 to 69 years 8,040,225 8,899,637 7,641,210
70 to 74 years 7,648,193 7,126,564 6,001,564
75 to 79 years 6,530,019 5,485,025 4,229,594
80 to 84 years 4,408,597 3,552,695 2,631,873
85 years and over 3,778,504 2,788,052 1,972,317

From this data, I've constructed the graph below showing the decline in youth cohorts from the 1980 Census data:

[Click Image to Enlarge]

I must mention that the estimates from the US Census Bureau show an increase in youth cohorts, wrt to 2008 vs. 2000, but these are estimates and not complete enumerations. They also fly in the face of the other data, which suggests a birth dearth and scarceness of young people. Among others, the losses at the UPN and WB networks, and continued losses at the merged CW network, aimed solely at teen girls. For example, the highest ratings of WB/UPN series Buffy the Vampire Slayer were 5.3 million, while that of the 1980's series the A Team were 20.1 million viewers.

Nevertheless, the data for White Alone youth cohorts for the 2008 estimates show an increase in young people created during a decade of high housing costs and declining real wages. Perhaps people magically had children at little cost, unlike earlier decades. Or some other cause is at work (immigration from Europe with pre-existing children)? I do find it puzzling that the peak numbers of the Baby Boom (16-17 million per cohort) is now approached in numbers (around 15-16 million) for the younger age cohorts, under age 5 to age 29. Particularly since the numbers of age cohorts in 2000 who would naturally age (8 years later) don't match up, there seems to be an extra 3 million people added with no explanation. Completeness however demands I point out that data, and let readers draw their own conclusions. My own are that the over-counting might well be from faulty estimates and wrong classifications (Hispanic/White being put into the White Alone category).

The White Alone category is the driver of the youth market, because Hispanics tend to strongly prefer Spanish-language media. As I've noted in other posts, during the campaign for and against California's Proposition 8 (overturning gay marriage), the opponents of Prop. 8 recruited Puerto Rican actress America Ferrara, star of the ABC-TV series "Ugly Betty" to record spots against Proposition 8. In English. Proponents of Proposition 8 got actual, Mexican native and Spanish speaking Telenovela stars to record spots in Spanish for Prop. 8. This undoubtedly helped Proposition 8 to pass.

America has a substantial Hispanic/Mexican youth population, but they tend to inhabit a separate and distinct cultural universe which only occasionally intersects with the English speaking, White/Black culture. Blacks do share many if not most of the cultural assumptions and enthusiasms of the White population, and a quick check of Nielsen's excellent ratings portal confirms that Black and White preferences for Television remains pretty much the same. While Hispanics don't share many of the same viewing patterns. Howver, there simply are not that many Blacks (12.5% of the population) to make an impact as a mass-driver of youth culture.

[Note to bloggers, for those seeking to copy/paste data into Excel from web-pages, a good Text Editor that can do regular expression search and replace is critical. For this post, I'd selected web pages generated by the US Census Bureau website and copied into TextWrangler, the free text editor from the BBEdit folks for the Mac. Using regular expressions I replaced the pattern of \r\t\r\r (a carriage return, a tab, two carriage returns) with \t (a single tab). Of course you need to show the invisibles to figure out what to replace. Gedit on Linux does not have regular expressions, both Kate and Jedit (the latter also available on the Mac) have regular expressions in Search and Replace. Once you've set up your text file properly, save it and import it into Excel or Open Office as a delimited (tab) text file and save yourself lots of tedious typing. It's faster and you don't get errors. A good text editor is also critical in replacing the junk that Excel or Open Office create when it saves HTML files, which I've done in creating this table for Blogger.]

Rolling Stone is as tedious, older skewing, aimed at a mostly older, female readership, as it is, because there just are not that many young people. Not enough young people to make say, either the Killers or Arctic Monkeys (both formed in 2002) as well-known, as popular, and as profitable as say Elvis, the Beach Boys, or the Beatles, in their hey-days, or even as the Eagles in 2004, a band at that point 32 years old (the Eagles were formed in 1972).

Everyone knows the data, but some times it takes the posed glamor shot of an ... American Idol contestant to understand how rock, and youth culture in general, are both dead. Because there are not enough young people.
...Read more

Monday, June 8, 2009

Failure of the Media Part Two: The Lingering Death of the LA Times

By all accounts the LA Times should be doing well. Absent the leverage demands of the parent company Tribune Media, the potential readership of the LA Times should be large. After all, the US Census Bureau shows 9.8 million people in Los Angeles County alone, and the Metro Area of LA (including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernadino, Orange, and Ventura Counties) offer no serious competitor to the LA Times. [Thanks to Google for the excellent graph at the link.] For people interested in reading about sports, entertainment, or anything else to do with the Los Angeles metropolitan area, there would seem to be no real alternative to the LA Times. It should be a perfect world, both plenty of customers, and no serious competitors. Even local blogs such as LA Observed or Mayor Sam's Sister City (the latter joking "written" by long-deceased Mayor Sam Yorty) offer no serious competition for the broad categories of sports, news, local happenings, and entertainment and few financial resources to compete in those broad categories.

Why then is the LA Times in trouble, with an ever declining readership, ever declining advertising base, ever declining staff, and morale at the paper at rock bottom? The answer is of course, demographics. Simply put, there are not enough upscale, Liberal White newspaper readers to make the LA Times profitable.

It's worth noting that the LA Times circulation peak was in 1988, with 1.1 million readers, daily. The LA Times has been declining in circulation ever since, down to 739,000 daily, as the chart below makes clear. [Data from the Wikipedia cite, see also here]

[Click Chart to Enlarge]

Yet even as the paper has been mired in one controversy over another, from the carefully timed release of sexual harassment allegations regarding then recall candidate for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (two days before the vote), to the suppression of the video of Barack Obama at PLO operative Rashid Khalidi's going away party and controversy over revenue sharing of an LA Times published magazine celebrating the Staples Center, population has been increasing in LA County. The increase is 14%, from 1988 to 2008, while the decrease in circulation is fully one third, at 33%.

[Click Image to Enlarge]

It's useful to recall, how under fully 14% fewer people in LA County alone, the LA Times reached it's peak circulation of 1.1 million daily. The featured Sports columnist was Jim Murray, not J. A. Adande. Batting Cleanup for Murray was the sarcastic Scot Ostler. Pat Morrison, from PBS, was not a columnist, while Jack Smith was. The newspaper, while fairly socially liberal, had a moderate to conservative political bent, was oriented towards serving it's mostly older, male readership in the things that mattered, local Sports, politics, and entertainment. The paper spent comparatively few resources on hip/trendy, but unread music columnists like Robert Hilburn, or tragically hip (but unread) movie critics like Carina Chocano. Angry Hispanic chauvinists and Liberals like Al Martinez and Steve Lopez were largely kept under wraps. Knowing that readership of the LA Times was mostly White, Male, and conservative.

This focus changed, even before Otis Chandler relinquished day-to-day control in 1995, as senior editors began to focus not on what their customers wanted, but on competing with local NPR stations they'd listen to in the drive over to work. Despite, of course, all those NPR stations being subsidized affairs that required massive fundraising efforts quarterly and relied upon being license holders of valuable broadcast frequencies, through government largesse. The success of NBC, nationally, with the Brandon Tartikoff strategy was no help either. Tartikoff's strategy, was to trade absolute number of viewers at NBC in favor of young urban professionals, the yuppies. In the go-go 1980's, the strategy worked as advertisers clamored to get in front of people with money. For the LA Times, however, this strategy was disastrous.

Because locally, Los Angeles was changing. The increase in population, as seen in my post, Radio and the Death of Indie 103.1, was mostly Hispanic/Mexican. Whites were actually a declining part of the population, and there was not enough wealth being created to drive upscale advertising. Even worse, by it's very nature, paper newspapers cannot track the type of people reading it's content (and ads). While NBC and other broadcast networks could proudly tout through the Nielsen reports, just how many women 18-34, or other coveted demographic slices, were watching the shows and ads. Advertisers with the LA Times had no way of knowing if the ads were reaching the wealthy few of Marina Del Rey, Malibu, Santa Monica, the Venice Canals, or people in Torrance, Tarzana, or Culver City, decidedly less wealthy and therefore not worth paying extra for to reach.

Meanwhile, forces were brewing that would devastate LA's economy, create White Flight, and conspire to help mortally wound the LA Times. The forces had two names: Bill Clinton, and Rodney King.

Under Bill Clinton's leadership, the LA area lost175,000 jobs at a minimum. Losses accounted for fully 45% of all high tech jobs in 1998, the near peak of the Dot-com boom. The biggest losses in that sector since the end of WWII, affecting nearly 12,000 firms in the LA basin. As shown in this WSJ article, rosy projections by Clinton and his people about changing over to entertainment from aerospace proved a mirage. High paying jobs, and the ability of those high-paying jobs to sustain a White middle class (that read newspapers like the LA Times) in a region of high housing costs, taxes, and energy costs, collapsed with Clinton's defense cuts. As others have noted, particularly Steve Sailer, LA's geography does not lend itself to living just anywhere. Weather is brutally hot (and smoggy) in low-cost areas such as Riverside, San Bernadino, and the Antelope Valley. Meanwhile job centers are located in nice to live in coastal areas, making commutes brutal. Key coastal areas that have decent climates and easy commutes are off-limits because of huge concentrations of crime-ridden non-White populations, making gentrification a joke (Watts, South Central, Bell, much of Long Beach, and East Los Angeles all fall into this category). Parents have to spend considerable sums of money to live in school districts that are merely acceptable, where their children do not face gangs or anti-education populations. All of this was sustainable as long as high-paying jobs in either the assembly line or engineering staff and large supporting structure of ancillary firms continued to exist. By 1994, that structure was gone, and families unable to afford LA's high cost of living fled elsewhere. To Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado.

Few were inclined to stick things out, because of the impact of the Rodney King riots. The riots, and the inept, politically driven response by the LA and State leadership, lost the confidence of LA's middle class. The riots, occurring just hours after the Not-Guilty verdict in the trials of LAPD officers Koon and others, on April 29, 1992, killed 53 people and left substantial parts of the city (most of it located in Black/Hispanic South Central) in burnt out ruins. However, the beating of Reginald Denny, by a Black mob, as the LAPD and other law enforcement authorities retreated, shocked middle class Whites in the LA area. As did the televised gun battles between Korean shop owners and marauding gangs of mostly Black looters, with the law enforcement authorities absent entirely.

Here was unmistakable evidence that when it came to public safety or suppressing a mob of Black (or Hispanic, just as many if not more of the rioters and looters seen on TV were Hispanic/Mexican), the political leadership, from Republican Governors like Pete Wilson down to the LAPD Chief Darryl Gates, and Black Democratic Mayor Thomas Bradley, would choose to sacrifice public safety instead of crack down hard, on mobs of non-Whites. While expedient politically in the short run (avoiding hugely negative press coverage which was for the most part solidly pro-rioter, and predictably anti-police) this series of choices to sacrifice mostly White (and Korean) public safety in favor of avoiding criticism for shooting and mass arrests of Blacks and Mexicans, had predictable results.

Besides increases in gun ownership among Whites, those who could leave Southern California did so, for states that were noticeably more White, and committed to public safety. Loss of confidence in the entire class of leadership, Republican and Democratic alike, when it came to public safety, had the Los Angeles Basin White middle class ready to leave when economic hardship hit in the form of Clinton's defense cuts that destroyed the economic basis of the White middle class.

As a result of the White flight from the LA basin, the LA Times began to lose readership, and potential readership, year by year. All the while, more immigrants, legal and otherwise, crowded into the LA basin. However, nearly all of these immigrants were non-English speakers, and preferred their newspapers, if they read them at all, in their native languages. Further eroding the LA Times financial position. In response, the LA Times leadership, created more and more liberal coverage. Not just on the opinion pages, but in the coverage of everything from Sports, to Entertainment, to News.

Completely absent from the LA Times pages were the growing influence of the MS-13 gangs, their ability to push westward from Downtown LA into MacArthur/Westlake Park, and the flight of Blacks southward into Long Beach out of South Central and Compton as superior numbers of Mexican immigrants (and gangs) pushed them out of native turf. That many of the gang-related murders in the LA area each year were related to these struggles were never mentioned in the LA Times. Meanwhile, it was by no means unusual for LA Times movie critics like Carina Chocano to query film-makers/producers like Judd Apatow on why fat White Guys get all his jokes (Apatow responded that political correctness dictated that only Fat White Guys be funny, the subject of jokes) in PC-inquisitions. Much of the content of the LA Times resembled a PC inquisition, into the state of mind of any (White Male only of course) person who might harbor racist, or sexist, or homophobic thought (crimes).

Naturally, subscribers edged ever downward. To their current level, a third less than the 1988 peak. Now with a heavy debt load acquired by the leveraged purchase of the Tribune Company by owner Sam Zell, the LA Times seems circling the drain like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other newspapers that might cease publication altogether in favor of online-only limited content.

The environment for Print Newspapers is dire. Newsosaur notes that young people (and there are few of them to begin with, at least White ones, due to the birth dearth) do not like to read newspapers, and the percentage that do has declined from 40% or so in 1999, to around 30% today. This is consistent with other findings. Older (White) Americans, age 65+, read newspapers the most (above 70% in 1999, to about 65% today). While ALL groups have declined, only ages 45 and up both started and finished above 55% in reading newspapers regularly).

Even worse, ad sales slid an appalling $2.6 billion last quarter or fully 28.3%. There is not any prospect of an upturn in the economy bailing out a failed strategy of appealing to ever younger, more liberal readers, who don't read newspapers in the first place, while alienating older, more conservative readers. The collapse of the housing industry and banrkuptcy of GM and Chrysler, means that ads for houses and autos, mainstays of newspaper advertising, are largely gone. Not to be replaced or revived any time soon.

Clearly, the LA Times, and parent Tribune Company, is only a few short steps away from bankruptcy, and perhaps cessation of the print publication of the LA Times. I doubt many readers will miss them.

So what is ahead for papers like the Times?

They can probably soldier onward, zombie-like, as glorified blogs. Costs for electronic versions are astonishingly low, but there remains the problem of getting people to read their content. The LA Times certainly could have driven millions of viewers to it's website by the simple expedient of putting up the video of Barack Obama at Rashid Khalidi's going away party. That it did not speaks volumes about it's desire to present ideological purity and propaganda (news suppression) over providing content someone might actually want to read. But simply producing a glorified "professional" version of LA Observed without the style and critically, the content of that website is not going to produce profits. Merely lower levels of losses.

Newsosaur, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, believes that his "ViewPass" will allow newspapers to charge prices content on array of mobile devices a sort of me-too operation in the way that the NFL or MLB charges for games streamed onto mobile phones and the like. I don't think that will succeed. Simply because newspapers are unable to provide anything worth reading.

Lost in all of this is the generational change of leadership in newspapers and indeed nearly all media. Old-line editors were like columnists such as Jack Smith or Jim Murray. They understood, and shared, the likes, dislikes, prejudices, virtues, and flaws of most of their readers. Because they were like their readers: older, Whiter, more conservative, middle class, and well, male. They certainly were not part of the liberal hothouse of academia and the media that exists today, advancement was through apprenticeship and demonstrating that stories generated readers (and thus money), not through "correct" ideology and gender, race, and sexual orientation membership. It would have been unthinkable in the Jim Murray era for the LA Times to employ a Sports Writer who openly had (a publicly celebrated in the LA Times pages) sex change operation. It simply would not have been tolerated, the risk of canceled subscriptions was too high, and the paper's purpose was to turn a profit, not push a social agenda (one alien to most of it's readers).

When the agenda of "celebrating" the transformation of Mike Penner to Christine Daniels takes precedence over providing an enjoyable Sports section for the morning breakfast table, newspaper management has lost all ability to connect with it's potential readers. A "ViewPass" can provide all the centrally managed mobile content that can be created, potential readers won't pay for Sports content provided by trans-gendered folk, even if said content is free.

Newsosaur is quite skeptical of the ability of the government to provide bail-out money. The losses are too deep, and the taxes required too onerous, to provide a complete Pravda model. While it's certain bailouts will be proposed, the ability to push them through in hard economic times when readers have already voted with their wallets (not to subscribe) is questionable.

It's quite likely, instead, that various bloggers, and conglomerations of bloggers, locally, will provide content, and that as newspapers like the LA Times shrink down to LA Observed / Mayor Sam's Sister City size, those bloggers or people like them will grow upwards. After all, it's all about content.

...Read more