DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

It used to be that every city had two newspapers – one in the morning, another in the afternoon. Or more. One was Republican, at least on its editorial page; the other, Democrat. You had a choice, and you had keen competition.

Frequently, the afternoon paper had the bigger circulation. Often, too, it concentrated on the hometown news and features, while the morning rival took a more serious tone, including more national and international coverage.

But then something shifted: afternoon circulation numbers began shrinking. We thought it had something to do with what we were publishing. The reality, however, had to do with the workplace. First, fewer Americans were working in factories – they weren’t getting off at 3 in the afternoon and heading home. And second, fewer workers were taking public transportation – they were driving, instead. And that meant they weren’t reading one paper while waiting for the bus or the train, and then reading the other for the return trip. As for the leisurely late afternoon before supper, it had vanished: they weren’t getting home until 6 or later.

One by one, the once prosperous afternoon editions folded or moved over to morning. And now you know why.

Hometown News
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9 thoughts on “DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

  1. I worked on an afternoon paper, Bill, it folded here in NZ because people were getting their news from the TV on the six o’clock news… and they began watching TV in the evenings instead of reading the evening newspaper…Alas !!!

  2. When I was growing up, the early editions of the afternoon papers were also for housewives who bought them when doing the daily shopping in the late mornings — to have something to read in the afternoons when housework was done and it wasn’t yet time to start dinner. The afternoon papers had horoscopes, and advice to the lovelorn, and recipes, and a Hollywood gossip columnist’s column. There are no more housewives, either!

  3. One of the highlights of my day is sitting down and reading the Casper (Wyoming) paper–the ONLY large paper in the state and the only one that covers news of statewide interest. It’s a good paper.
    I don’t like reading “internet papers”, and like the feel of newsprint in my hands and ink on my fingers.

    • Good for you, George!
      Even the ink on your fingers? I used to get it on my pants when I brushed up against something in the newsroom. And forget it if I had on khaki slacks when I stepped into the press room. At the moment, there’s blue fountain pen ink on my fingers … so, yes, we’re in the same club here. Thanks for speaking up.

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