Why Digital-Only Newspapers Make Sense (but not for me)

Every once in a while I ponder cancelling my long running home delivery subscription to The Boston Globe, the “newspaper of record” in Massachusetts — and New England for that matter — and just go digital.  Time to read it is so limited weekday mornings when getting out the door to sit in traffic on Route 93 and ultimately wind my way to 6 Edgerly Place, Boston trumps a leisurely cup of java and a flip through newspaper.

But I just can’t bring myself to do it.  At least not yet.

Today’s 24-hour news cycle and access to technology makes a very strong case for digital-only newspapers.

Among public relations professionals, for example, addiction to our smartphones, tablets, laptops and e-readers means there’s little news (at least business and breaking news) many of us aren’t aware of as it’s reported throughout the day.

If you’re in PR, chances are the last thing you do before hitting the sack is to check your smartphone’s news apps before setting the alarm on that very same device.

And earlier in the evening, following dinner, you watch TV with your tablet or e-reader or notebook PC on your lap and at every opportunity (like during commercials or whenever your significant other leaves the room) you check news sites, as well as Facebook, probably Twitter and always email.

What happens in the world while we’re sleeping isn’t going to make it into the print edition of a morning newspaper anyway. But it will be there on your mobile device. So why bother with a home delivery newspaper subscription?

The numbers don’t lie.  According to Pew Research Center, many more of us are getting our news fix on mobile devices and as a result, in the next few months we’ll see another wave of newspapers moving to a digital subscription model.

Pew also says we’re less discriminating about which mobile device we’re getting our news from –almost like whichever device happens to be nearby will do:  “people who go mobile are getting news on all their devices. … They also appear to be getting it more often… .”

  • 34 percent of desktop/laptop news consumers also get news on a smartphone
  • 27 percent of smartphone news consumers also get news on a tablet
  • 17 percent of desktop/laptop news consumers also get news on a tablet
  • 5 percent get news on all three

As for me, I’ll eventually need to be weaned away from my Boston Globe home delivery subscription.  I’ve thought about the Thursday – Sunday package the Globe offers, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

And, of course, there’s the Sunday-only option. Unfortunately, it appears that’s where all of us die-hard print news junkies may be headed. About 15 newspapers per year are shutting down their presses and some newspaper industry executives are saying that by 2017, many newspapers will be dropping a newspaper on our door steps only on Sunday — when most print ad revenue is accounted for.

Personally, I can’t — I won’t — envision a day without my Sunday newspaper.   Until then, for me, it’s home delivery 365.  Holding out as long as they let me.