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January 04, 2005

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Comments

Maggie

Perhaps the new owners are just getting with the times and are going to put into "print" blogs for the remaining few Americans who are "computer challenged".

Paul Jones

Again this is in my backyard, literally. Chapel Hill is between Greensboro and Durham (pronounced Derm as to rhyme with "germ"). I mentioned Phil Meyer's Vanishing Newspaper in the G'boro News and Record post, but again it's appropriate.
As we prepare for Triangle Bloggers Conference 2005, I've asked participants to discuss whether we are ready to be We the Media as the sell and axing at the Herald-Sun is just one of several losses of local news in the RDU/Triangle area with possibly more to come.

Dave of Florida

Years ago Dairies used small delivery "milk trucks" to deliver milk each morning to almost every home on the block. People eventually found it cheaper or easier or just better to get milk at a store.

Print newspapers are like the old milk trucks. Newspapers are disappearing one by one because people have found it cheaper, or easier or just better getting news, trend information and ads from other sources.

Dave of Florida

Years ago Dairies used small delivery "milk trucks" to deliver milk each morning to almost every home on the block. People eventually found it cheaper or easier or just better to get milk at a store.

Print newspapers are like the old milk trucks. Newspapers are disappearing one by one because people have found it cheaper, or easier or just better getting news, trend information and ads from other sources.

Karen M.

Or maybe the dairies found it was cheaper *for them* if they made deliveries only to stores or distributors, rather than to individual consumers?

As for newspapers, their overall quality had already begun to decline before the internet became such a popular news source.

Dana Richardson

Folks this is some really classy analysis, but it seems to trend toward an economic consideration, or considerations, as being the pile driver behind the decision of the newspaper. What if that weren't correct, but were a valid constituent of a larger image, which would be more exact. There are cultural issues that seem to play into this? Also some learning behavior issues (reading versus visual oriented styles...). At any rate really appreciate the discussion..."it do" make one think...

-drich1-

Bruce dearborn Walker

I no longer find a need for a daily local newspaper(comming down from 2-3+ per day in the 80's). Obviously national and international news comes over the internet, with tv for a fact checker.

The local free weekly tabloids (Westword in Denver, the Advocate in southern New England) are an adequate source for local "small" news and "what's happening Friday night." They are not, however completely adequate as a source of local advertising.

If a local business has sales or specials, or something interesting comming up, and is willing to pay for my attention, I would be interested in some way to receive their advertising. Preferably under my complete control.

The person who figures out a convenient way to put together local businesses and consumers over the internet stands to make the recent google IPO seem like small potatoes. No one yet has been truly successful.

As for the local Connecticut papers (New Haven Register and CT Post) they were gutted long ago. I might pick one up at the barber shop if there are no intersesting magazines. They will change or die. But there is space for a new idea.

Maggie

-drich1- "Also some learning behavior issues (reading versus visual oriented styles...). At any rate really appreciate the discussion..."it do" make one think..."

This question might have had a "yes" answer five years ago as "the folk" sat in front of the boob tube (pardon that old cliche). But the growth of the internet as a news outlet (reading required), suggests that READING IS FUNDAMENTAL
(I'm just full of old cliches this morning -- it's raining here).

If anything, with the ever-growing numbers of "readers/commenters", writing is becoming fundamental, too!

Heath

True, reading habits are changing and i'd agree that the sources are expanding, but it's the increasing speed that we are consuming information that's incredible to me. I don't know if I should be alarmed or in awe of how quickly technology is picked up by the uninhibited or non-intimidated kids in our society...

Still, it's been a shame to see up here in Vermont how Gannett's Burlington Free Press continues to be stripped and filled with nothing but leftovers from the bigger chain stores. The bottom line rules, but the publisher still manages to instill his christian right values by NOT covering certain issues...

Great blog by the way...I really like where you are going with this so far...

Bill Skeels

There still remains a role for an organization with lots of good reporters, an editorial staff, editorial cartoonists, all that, irrespective of delivery mode.

I believe the new owners of the Herald-Sun may find this to be a very short ride. While Durhamites don't really like this fact, the (Raleigh) News & Observer is the 500 pound gorilla in this area, and has substantial Durham reporting. Though they're not as good as they were back in their solo days (they're now a McClatchy paper), and have become impossibly cautious on the oped page, it's already leagues beyond the Herald-Sun. I expect that the many Durham folks who have stayed with the incumbent local through inertia aren't going to stay long as the paper is notably drained further of content. Ad revenues will sink, and pretty fast I'd bet.

I'd give the Herald-Sun less than 2 years ...

Anna

"how Gannett's Burlington Free Press continues to be stripped and filled with nothing but leftovers from the bigger chain stores..."

Check out John Dvorak's article "Newspapers Baffled by Declines" at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1747313,00.asp - he makes the point that the newspapers which displaced the advertising-packed weekly shoppers are morphing into what they displaced, and that the customers don't much like it.

Hey Dan, given that your readers know more than you do, how about doing an open "what should I post about?" post?

Also in the wishful thinking dept - what this reader would like is an about-grassroots-journalism blog aggregator, so that we could read you, Rosen, and others of your ilk from the same spot, so it would be clear(er) whether it's helpful vs. superfluous to tell readers of Blog A about something on Blog B.

Of course then one runs into the dilemma of who to include, and when (is it possible to specify that you want include only certain categories of blog posts in an aggregation? )

Heath@DeanTV.org

Thanks for the great link, Anna. The story of dailys reminds me of my experience with monthly magazines. As a magazine editor turned sales manager in NYC in the late 90's I could see the writing on the wall for magazines as well. The bubble burst on the dot coms and it led to the economic downturn that finally gave execs the excuse to do away with the old notion of seperating the dark side from the editorial side.

My own experience at the time was to watch our Scholastic tech mags: Home Office Computing and Small Business Computing get sold to a slasher company (Curtco-Freedom)where the very successful chief-wrecking-ball who bought us kept talking about rescuing us from a very fine company WHILE trying to explain while all benefits had to be cut and, ultimately, ALL original employees had to be let go.

The guy did this with many tech mags back then and made a pretty penny for being who he was and gutting editorial unless the editor got on board and started pumping the articles with product placement for convenient ad placement....come to think of it, he owned Computer Shopper at the time too.

Says the article you provided a link for:

"The mentality of most metro dailies is certainly advertiser-oriented, just like a shopper. Entire sections, such as the real-estate or auto sections, are pure PR fluff surrounded by ads. There is no news coverage at all, but lots of promotion."

Anyhow, I'm just being nostalgic as it was a good lesson in being sold down the river, I mean in business. What's been happening with newspapers is not that much different really: execs simply thinking bottom line. INTEGRITY for future growth simply does not compute.

I guess the real lesson is that after he did the dirty work of stripping and selling out the content and soul of these mags and found a buyer two years later, the publications simply folded. Granted, tech times were tough, but a thoroughly confused and ignored circulation base didn't help.

Robert Merrill

I think a lot of the problem is related to media aggregation and consolidation.

Why would someone start a local newspaper? Generally becuase they want to make a living by informing people about the news.

Why would a corporation buy a local newspaper? Generally because "it" wants to make greater profit - so the goal of informing people becomes secondary at best.

The problem is that by default a corporation's sole reason for existence is to maximize profit for the shareholders - not to inform the public.

Want to to do something about it?

Well, one innovative approach is to create an alternate system for effectively informing people (again: why did people start newspapers?). Thanks Dan!

In parallel, you can also weaken the corporation's power to gut news reporting in newspapers, radio, tv (and eventually the web) by writing to chairman Powell of the FCC or better yet your Congressional representative ( http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ ) to complain about relaxing rules that limit media consolidation by corporations.
(http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,59068,00.html )

Ultimately I am hopefull that Dan's efforts are going to be an important part of creating a new way for people to get "the news".

But I suspect that whatever this new thing is is going to have to effectively reproduce some of the best parts of the major newspapers or network news shows - the ability to support teams of people working together over long periods doing "investigative journalism". (ex: Post Story on the Nature Conservancy: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/specials/natureconservancy/ )

hmmm... maybe a valuable secondary service Dan's "new thing" could offer would be to package resell items from selected posts to a news syndicator service. ..providing a legal framework for the content to be sold to/reprinted in the "smelly newspapers" you have been complaining about.

Well, it's been fun but gotta run.

- Robert

Daniel Conover

I'd like more people to recognize that "local news" is actually an expensive product, given its limited audience. National coverage has some built-in economies of scale, but papers like the one in Durham are stuck in the middle: they lack the intimacy of a community paper, and they can't compete on big stories.

These stuck-in-the-middle dailies are the real dinosaurs, and this is particularly true in markets like the Triangle.

The problem right now is that these newspapers represent much of the reporting manpower in America, and the web has shown little ability to create and sustain local reporting teams. And I can hardly see how American journalism will be improved by reducing the number of working journalists.

I don't doubt that this will get resolved, somehow, but we're looking at an awkward transition. The local paper may look stupid now, but we may look back fondly on it five years from now.

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