Newspaper Subscription Loyalty: Would You Switch Papers, And What For?
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People get so emotional about products: and perhaps especially about media products. Witness the devotion certain films, and film franchises can generate. People attending conventions dressed up as Darth Vader, Darth Vader as a harem dancer, Darth Vader as a six-year-old girl! Signing up to a Hogwarts 'house'. (Despite the fact that it is an imaginary school that has never existed and would probably do a crap job getting you through your GCSEs, okay? I imagine playing in Triwizard Tournaments would be no use at all in your sixth form Media Studies vocational course!)
How about newspapers? Beyond a certain age most of us settle on a political conviction, or lack of one, choose newspapers accordingly, and remain pretty much married to that news outlet for a long, long time. Why keep changing your order with the newsagents, anyway? Inertia keeps us receiving the same bundle of newsprint day after day, despite sometimes complaining to the high heavens about the vacuity or wrongheadedness or learned pointlessness of the contents.
That's how it seems, anyway, asking around my family and circle of friends. (How long has my Mum been meaning to alter her subscription now? And yet, she still keeps getting the same old Express delivered. She doesn't like it. She doesn't even enjoy complaining about it. And yet she still keeps on shelling out for it, and providing more material for the paper recycling bin or the compost heap (and largely unread, I might add.)
Myself, I'd sooner commit treason or do without, oh, biscuits, than forgo my daily Guardian. (I didn't say I'd forgo alcohol. There is a limit.) Even if I don't actually read most of my dear Gridiron. G2 and about half of the Saturday edition sections are quite sufficient to keep most literate but busy people in reading matter for... well, a fortnight actually. Why is there so bloody much of it? When are they planning on bringing out a condensed version like the (vastly inferior) Independent? (Why am I so feverishly loyal to my paper of choice? Well, you know, knews isn't just news. There's research to suggest that we get quite a bit of, ah, you might call it direction in with our dose of the day's happenings and activities via newsprint, e.g. with respect to economic data.)2
Are newspapers going to survive, especially given online access in the media age? (Not that this might be such a disincentive, if more papers adopt the paid model than the Times and the NYT.) Well, they certainly seem pretty bullish, if you go by The Telegraph: brand loyalty is the thing, apparently, according to the Sunday Telegraph's Patience Wheatcroft. 1 Is she right? We'll see, we'll see... In the meantime, I'm going to try to persuade my Mum to actually cancel the Express, one more time...
1. Sweney, M. The Guardian. 'Wheatcroft: Why Papers Will Survive.' www.guardian.co.uk 4th July 2006. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/jul/04/advertising.newmedia Accessed 12th August 2012.
2. V Larcinesea, R Puglisib, JM. Snyder Jr. Partisan bias in economic news: Evidence on the agenda-setting behavior of U.S. newspapers. J. of Public Economics. 95:9–10, Oct. 2011, pp1178–1189.
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