Friday, October 8, 2010

Are newspapers dead?

Design legend Ron Reason (above, left) weighs in for the first segment of the 100 Words Artists-in-Residence Series. Ron has redesigned newspapers from Walla Walla to the Wall Street Journal. Today, we ask Ron about design, the new Gap logo, the iPad and whether he's wearing any pants.

1W: Why does design matter?

RR: So people can find, use and enjoy things more.

1W: What's the best-designed paper in the country right now?

RR: The New York Times. Its format lets readers find, use and enjoy the content quickly, and reinforces its brand - authoritative, orderly, smart.

1W: What paper needs the most help, design-wise?

RR: Any paper that has found itself in a state of severe attrition over the past few years - and there are many of them - but hasn't started from scratch. Many of them look anemic or like they are choking to death.

1W: Is there any hope for newspapers in the digital age?

RR: This is a huge readjustment period for newspapers. I'm hearing from clients that things are stable for now. They aren't making 30% profit margins like in the past (goodbye, classifieds) but they are doing OK. The challenge is how to put out a product that anyone wants - staffs have been cut so drastically.

1W: Is the iPad the savior of newspapers?

RR: Not anytime soon. So few people have them, the money isn't there and won't be anytime soon. But, in 5-10 years, will so many people have a tablet (not just iPad) that it will be the new thing? Will the revenue sharing be worked out with Apple and others that it all makes sense? Once newspapers ditch their printing presses, newsprint purchases, delivery trucks (and related staff), it just might work out. But that's going to be another huge shakedown and readjustment for the industry.

1W: Your thoughts on the new Gap logo?

RR: I haven't been in a Gap in 15 years.

1W: What are you wearing right now?

RR: Pants.

Thanks Ron! Stay tuned for the next installment of the 100 Words Artist-in-Residence Series, where we interview western swing music legend John England.


Clark said...

Most newspapers are in large cities. They push leftwing views on their news pages as well as editorial pages. Like the New York Times. They treat their customers as idiots who will blindly swallow political propaganda as "news". This disdain for their own customers is the reason for the demise. Stylististic changes will not overcome the damage done by newspapers owners, like the owner of the NYT, abandoning real journalism in favor of pushing the DNC agenda. People would pay for true, high quality journalism. It just does not exist anymore and people have choices now on the Internet and elsewhere.

Newspapers are not dying, they are committing suicide.

Patrick Scullin said...

Yes, Clark, newspapers ARE indeed left wing tools of enslavement (unlike the balanced fairness and unbiased truth served on Fox News), but they can still be prettier, can't they?

The real problem with newspapers is there's precious little good reporting anymore. It's the content, stupid!

Clark said...

Newsweek sold for $1. I wonder what FoxNews would sell for? Of course, it is just right wing propaganda. But NBC, CNN, CBS and ABC are losing viewers by the millions, and their managements keep putting left wing "journalists" in (like Elliott Spitzer, George Stephonopoulos, Katie Couric, etc.) so the trend will continue. The news is no longer about "news" - it is about DNC talking points being packaged as news to push agendas like global warming, government run health care, government run everything. The people with brains see through the lame effort and simply go elsewhere. Meanwhile these once impressive journalistic operations sink in value to zero. The next step has already been suggested - government run news subsidized by taxpayers "contributions".

I will take Fox News any day over the others. It actually presents facts, goes against the government dogma, presents different points of view. The people are voting with their remote controls.

Barack talking to the Sheep said...

"Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me."

2009 White House Correspondents Dinner

Patrick Scullin said...

Clark, you write: "The next step has already been suggested - government run news subsidized by taxpayers 'contributions'"-- in a sense, that's where we are today.

Lobbyists buy off politicians (on BOTH sides of the aisle), politicos pass laws enabling huge media conglomerates to be formed, the 24-hour news cycle and talking points megaphone is in place to gin-up a never ending diet of fear-inducing news stories. Voila! Here we are.

As long as corporations are allowed to finance our elections, we'll always have the best politicians money can buy.

And again, it's on both sides-- the Republicans are just much better at it than the Dems.

John Galt said...


Given that Democrats currently rule both houses and hold the Presidency, I would say they know how to use lobbyists. Obama bought his house with the help of a corrupt Chicago lobbyist/slumlord. Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Banking Committe got favorable mortgages from Countrywide, while he was helping it make a fortune on subprime loans. Barbara Boxer voted on appropriations that went directly to her husbands company. Most of the executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac came directly from the Democrat Party and then received tens of millions in compensation for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac creating trillions of losses in sub prime loans. a complete Democrat operation, with supporting legislation created by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Goldman Sachs, big evil investment bank, was headed by Robert Rubin, Democrat, and Hank Paulsen, Democrat. Goldman has given huge contributions to Democrats, much more than to Republicans. And it has gotten favored treatment.

As long as the government is granted more power than it should have based on the constitution, there will be vast lobbying efforts to get it to use the power to benefit both public and private entities, like the SEIU and AFL-CIO, which have pour millions into the Democrats only so they can get special treatment.

If we had a smaller limited government which did not take on the role of stealing from one person to given to another, there would be a lot less lobbyist influence.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a political moderate, and see most of the comments here as very partisan.

When my friends on the political right tell me the left is wrong about everything (and vice-versa), it really makes me wish the mainstream media had MORE influence, not less. It is my opinion that too many Americans are just hearing what they want to hear.

Reading my local newspaper challenges my views, and opens my mind to new information every day. It's not all done perfectly, but I'm not reading the paper with a partisan agenda, either way. If I were, red flags would be going up all the time... whether I were a leftie, or a rightie.

Old Fart said...

Dear Anonymous

Try this every other day. Listen to Rush Limbaugh to "challenge" your views. It will be better for you than your local newspaper. And it may save the country from totally unqualified doofuses being elected President, so people could feel good voting for a black guy (who is also a white guy) even though he had the resume of a toothbrush.

Anonymous said...

How did it happen that an informative and non-political story about the business model of newspapers inspire such heated commentary? Sun spots? Chemicals in the water supply? The heartbreak of psoriasis? -- Randolf Hearst IV

Mike Royko said...

Newspaper and magazine owners decided to ignore their mission and their customers and simply become PR agencies for the left. Simple as that. They made their mission political influence no matter the cost to truth. They became political agents, which caused them to forfeit about 60% of their customer base. And since their mission was no longer serious, they stopped attracting talent and instead attracted political hacks. They pissed on their customers. Not complicated.