As the economy continues to deteriorate, one of the industries that is going to be most severely affected is the American newspaper industry.
The fact of the matter is that the biggest chains are deeply in debt. Major cities that have had at least two daily newspapers for more than a century, such as Chicago and Seattle, might soon find themselves with only one source of news. Other papers, such as those in Detroit are no longer providing daily home delivery. If things get really bad, some experts say that some small towns might not have any paper by 2010.
And that’s a shame. Unlike radio which has become dominated by opinion or TV news which only looks for the 30 second sound bite, the local newspaper digs deep every day to get you, the reader, the full story on what’s happening in your town.
The newspaper is heavily focused on local news. It keeps you informed about events in your town and keeps local government in-line.
So for one day, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009, please make it a point to pick up your local newspaper (reading it online doesn’t count).
We’ve had no shortage of discussion about the incompetence of American newspapers – especially when it comes to living on the Web, competing with what’s new on the Web. That graphic up top is from my own local newspaper. One of the oldest locally-owned papers in the country – and just as backwards as the rest.
They hired a few great folks to build a web presence. They succeeded well – award winners on an annual basis for what they produced. So, when times started to get tough – and the newspaper’s owners had borrowed millions to expand the print side of the NEW MEXICAN – they decided to cut expenses exactly like the big boys at the Tribune Group. They fired talent – including the original staff who had built the online edition to the best in the region.
I’m not going into lots of detail. I still have home delivery of the Sunday edition. I drop by the online site a couple times a week just to bust balls on a few local reactionaries. I’ve ended all other participation in their online projects.
As far as I can see, these hard times plus the general decline of print vs online news presents an opportunity. Journalism can be learned. Site development gets easier by the day. News gathering is the crux of the question; but, I’m certain our local, big and little newspapers will be making more talent available for that task. Looks like time to start a local online newspaper.