For 70 years, Human Events has been a staple in American conservative media. Before Fox News, Human Events was one of the few–and certainly the most reputable–publications that was consistently representative of conservative ideology. This week, the newspaper’s publisher announced that it is cancelling the publication’s print edition, focusing solely on its online content. The February 18th issue currently being sold will be the last.
I’ve been a reader of Human Events since high school. In fact, I find myself reading it at least weekly. However, I’ve never bought a physical copy of it. I laid my hands on one once at a conference, but apart from that my loyal readership has been exclusively via the paper’s online edition. I’m not alone in this.
Human Events is owned by Eagle Publishing, the same company that owns Regnery Publishing and conservative blog RedState.com.The publisher adamantly stated that the decision to axe the print edition was not one rooted in a declining interest in the paper’s message, but rather a realistic view of the media landscape.”People get their news for free online,” said Joseph Guerriero, head of Eagle.
The fact remains that media is now the most saturated market in the world. With no barrier to entry, one’s ability to become a content publisher is limited to an internet connection. Even then, a 10-minute trip to the library could suffice.
Now, that’s not to say for a moment that all online news content is quality content, but there are enough online news publications out there that a great deal are. And as any publisher can tell you, readers of online news are loyal, yes, but to a dozen websites, not just one. That means that unlike with a newspaper, where a subscriber will read it every morning and base their knowledge of the world on that alone, online news readers will scan a large number of blogs and online newspapers.
If one of those sites on the daily scan decided to implement a paywall–as many traditional newspapers that have moved to online are trying to do–the vast majority of people would just drop that site from their bookmarked list rather than pay the price, however much it is.
Where media is headed from here, one can only speculate. However, based on where the industry has gone in the last five years, it’s not without basis to say that there will be insurmountable changes in the next five years. Possibly a complete eradication of national print media (local papers will kick around for quite a while.)
When it comes to media, nothing is sacred. Nothing can resist the tides of change, no matter how fervently its ownership tries to.