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Content anticipation in decline: The Sunday newspaper

This series has concentrated on different types of content that I look forward to and truly anticipate. As far as content goes, there is probably no better compliment than having an audience waiting on what will be produced next. Well, the only way that can be better is that it happens over a long period of time, but in today’s world of disposable everything that is becoming harder and harder to accomplish.

Today, I will look at a particular type of content publisher that sat on the top of the heap in nearly every town and city in the country. It was looked forward to every week for as many reasons as there were readers, and it held a sacred position in the content world. This former champion of anticipated content is the Sunday newspaper.
Special sections, extended coverage, special reports, and information that you couldn’t get elsewhere were the hallmarks of the Sunday paper. I have lived in the New York area, Boston, northern Virginia, South Florida and now Raleigh, NC. I have read every Sunday paper offered, including New York and suburban NJ which offers 5 big papers to choose from. Through the years, as I have moved up and down the eastern seaboard, I have watched the sad phenomenon of the magically disappearing Sunday paper. I think it might be very close to the end of the product as we know it.


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At one time, you had to have some muscles to gather up three Sunday papers, such as the New York Times, the Newark Star-Ledger, and the New York Daily News. Not today. In fact, my current Sunday offering, the Raleigh News and Observer, has trimmed its offering so intensely that there is literally no reason to get the paper delivered anymore. In fact, I have chosen to stop it completely. Once you peel away the coupons and circulars and extract my two guilty pleasures (the comics and Parade Magazine), what’s left is about as much news that I used to expect on a Tuesday. Couple that with shoddy reporting, typos, and general editorial incompetence—why should I spend money on it?
In other words, the thrill is gone. I have watched the greatest weekly collection of content go from king to gutter and it’s been hard to digest. Why? Because as I watch these once mighty offerings fade away, I know that there is no way to re-create the sensation of that big Sunday paper in a digital format. What am I going to have happen? Will my e-reader of choice feel heavier on Sunday? Will the digital comics make me laugh as hard (even though the quality of the comics has gone further downhill than the papers themselves)?
Times change and so does the quality, presentation, and effectiveness of content. The lesson we should all learn from the Sunday paper is that nothing lasts forever. Adapt or die, and, most of all, pay attention to what is happening around you. Unless you change with the times, the Times may just go away.

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