The 4th estate dies at 404

Note: Most news companies prepare obituaries in advance, so they will have it ready when the inevitable day arrives. The news of the Tribune Company filing for bankruptcy protection yesterday, inspires this update. I hope it never comes.

chart of newspaper industry decline

Chart of newspaper revenues, circulation, advertisers, employees, stock price and useage as a bird cage liner.

SOMEDAY TOO SOON. British politician Edmund Burke said there were “Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all… A Fourth Estate, of able butts, springs up.” No more. After a prolonged illness, the newspaper business, age 404, has died. Officially, the death was from “natural causes” related to increased costs, decreasing circulation, disappearing advertisers, competitive pressure and the failure of the money supply. The newspaper industry was infected with a new form of cancer in late 1999 and courageously fought the spread of the disease often undergoing expensive, exotic and experimental treatments from “consultants” including mergers, acquisitions, bloodletting, amputations, transplants and even internet therapy.

The scientific name of the cancerous disease is “Solvo Sumptus” or “Free Cost.” It is known today as “Craigs List” and left untreated, causes immediate blindness, impaired mental function and increased organizational bloating, leading to a multitude of health problems and side effects including ignorance, unemployment and bankruptcy. It is considered the leading cause of cronyism, political corruption and despotism. Craig’s Lists, however, is not always fatal. The Newspaper Industry also suffered from many self-inflected injuries, some seemingly accidental, others related to old age, and more than a few of suspected nefarious origin. The Newspaper industry is thought to have been born in Strassburg in 1605, immigrated to the US arriving in Boston in 1690. Predeceased by parents, Town Criers and Scriveners, the industry is survived by five wives who are each in declining health: Billboards, Radio, Television, Direct Mail and Investment Bankers; its siblings and step-siblings who are also each in declining health: Books, Billboards and Broadcast News; children, bastard and legitimate: Tabloids and Cable News and the World Wide Web; grandchildren: Internet News, Blogs, RSS, Wiki, Social Networks, Podcasts, Widgets and Web Pages; and cousins: Talk Radio, SMS Alerts, Email, Comedy Central and other television talk shows. In addition to being the lifelong protector of democracy, promoting literacy, decimating the world’s forests, and contributing to the weight gain of thousands of middle-aged editors, the Newspaper Industry will be remembered for its unique profit strategy: create, print and deliver a new product directy to the door of people around the world every single day for less than the cost of a pack of gum, while making up the loss by charging to run ads of which famous retailer, John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted… The problem is, I don’t know which half.” The Newspaper Industry ran out of department stores and car dealers. Condolences to us all.

Announced Pallbearers:

Leave a Reply