It is self-inflicted.

Via The Hill:

For those of us who still love getting our news from newspapers, those inky, crinkly, thin sheets of wood pulp you hold in your hands and read, these indeed are sad times. Print newspapers, thanks in large part to the meteoric rise of smartphones and online and social media, are in serious decline.

That decline is even more dramatic in places where they are are needed most – the villages, towns and smaller cities across America where print newspapers have long been a key link to the community.

In the short four-year period between 2012 and 2016, the number of daily newspapers in the United States fell from 1,425 in 2012 to 1,286 in 2016.

And the print decimation continues. In late June, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a long explanation of why it is cutting the weekly number of days it prints from seven to five. The stated reason in a letter to union employees, those most-hurt by the cutback: “We have decided that becoming a digital newspaper is our future.”

This week Post-Gazette Editor David Shribman explained to readers that the cutback is a “… dramatic step into the digital future of news, transforming itself from a medium steeped in print into a fresh new profile committed to all the potential of the new communications world.”

Translation: Print newspapers are not our top priority anymore. It is much cheaper to place news stories onto a website with the click of a button than to print them on paper. Newspapers require buying newsprint by the ton, ink by the barrel, hugely expensive printing presses and trucks to distribute them, not to mention paying the many carriers needed to deliver them to your home.

Newspapers feeling the financial strain have already made deep cuts where it is easiest: in newsroom reporters and editors. The Pew Research Center recently reported that due to declining readership and advertising sales, employment of news personnel since 2007 – a time when smartphones and social media burst onto the scene – dropped by nearly half: 74,000 to 39,000.

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