A few decades ago Sanford and Son was a popular TV comedy. When Fred Sanford, a cantankerous schemer, was caught in a ploy, he would often clutch his chest feigning a heart attack, look skyward and call out to his dead wife, “This is The Big One, Elizabeth! I’m coming to join ya honey.” This ongoing and anticipated satirical antic was a reliable laugh producer.
Unfortunately for the Arizona Republic, its repeated routines are neither funny nor able to retain old readers or capture new ones.
In an effort to fill space in the incredibly shrinking newspaper — which has morphed into a slim entertainment review, increasingly staffed by Cronkite student reporters — the New Year’s Day edition takes a stab at making predictions. There are nine. Accompanying the obligatory sports forecast most of the rest use Republican candidates as punching bags. In fact, the newspaper is not above stretching the truth when it cones to giving cover to John McCain, shamefully running for a sixth six-year term at age 80. If he’s elected and is able to function in office, he’d be closing in on staring 90 in the eye at the end of that term. Increasingly unpopular, he recently had trouble generating an audience for his kickoff announcement.
There was a time when the Republic endorsement list was clutched in the hands of voters standing in line at neighborhood polling places. Newcomers to the state will find it difficult to imagine that the publication was conservative in its previous incarnation. Today, an endorsement is likely to be the kiss of death for an issue or candidate.
Now there are few polling places since registering as a voter can be accomplished online and voting is increasingly done at the kitchen table with ballots mailed in. We are repeatedly told that voter fraud is non-existent, but the ease of registering and voting makes that a tough sell.
This Oct. 2012 Pew Research report details the sharp decline in newspaper readership, which has only worsened in the intervening years.
Reflections of a Newsosaur illustrates the plummeting advertising and the deep generational divide in newspaper readership. While 53% of the Boomer generation (those 55 and older) said they read print newspapers, only 22% of Millenials (ages 18-34) and 32% of Generation Xers (ages 35-54) read hard copy news. It’s a certainty these numbers have continued a downward spiral since the data was collected. Digital news distribution fares no better.
The Arizona Republic’s “Big One” on its prediction list is concealing the fact that it’s on life support. Employees have been pink-slipped and buyout options have allowed many older, higher paid staffers to take the money and run. The hard left newspaper is struggling to stay afloat, but continues to insult the very readers it needs to survive.
The good news is fewer Arizonans notice.