Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dying Newspapers

A friend who grew up in Cleveland with me sent me a link to a Time Magazine article, saying that Cleveland's only remaining daily newspaper might close, and is among the 10 most endangered US papers.

I have a twinge of sadness about that, because I was a carrier for the Plain Dealer when I was a teen, and was a big team player. (We hated the Cleveland Press, advancing the rivalries managements had. We had rivalries with the kids who carried The Press, and celebrated when The Press folded. We picked up many of their former customers.) I have a twinge of sadness now for the rapid death of the newspapers, because they were once great institutions, at least when there were the rivalries, and papers tried to get the scoop on- get this- the local news!

But I do like to chuckle and enjoy the idea that the writers at any American daily tend to be left-of-center, that those left-of-center tend to believe in evolution, and that their livelihood is dying because they have failed, no, refused to evolve.

Going back to Cleveland, I'll never forget how The Guild refused to write for Cleveland Live when it started, because they were The Guild, and therefore above that newfangled internet fad. Cool by me! I was a free lance writer, and picked up some supplemental income on the 'fad'. Then The Guild reversed course after boatloads of money was spent on freelancers- because they were The Guild! The true professionals that belonged as the face of the 'newspaper'! Bwaaahahahaha!

I believe that newspapers made themselves irrelevant by refusing to be local. Hell- I can get all the national news I want as it happens- on cable news, talk radio, and internet. What do I need a repeat of what I know for, especially when that AP report is printed tomorrow? Even if they gave it as they happened, what makes their carriage of an AP report different than anyone else's? Look at the Indy Star, the Plain Dealer, or any other American daily, and you'll see the bulk of the paper filled by AP reports, or articles from the Washington Post or New York Times.

It's foolish. We have the national papers that have made their national niches: the NY Times, by virtue of being in NY; the Washington Post, by virtue of being in DC; the Wall Street Journal, by virtue of being on Wall Street. Every other paper in the US is dooming itself to go the way of the dinosaur, for refusal to evolve. Hell- those papers are national in a large way because they are local! Their locality happens to generate news of national interest.

Most papers have pretty good sports sections. Well, that's local news. How can they be so blind?

Darwin, newspaper! Darwin!

1 comment:

Doug said...

I agree with you on the issue of local reporting -- that's the primary value added by local newspapers. Their decision to mostly focus on national wire stories, opinion, and human interest stories was short sighted. Opinion in general is something that others are willing and able to provide for free.

The margin of profit on local reporting is probably smaller than other things that go in the newspaper, but it is also the area where local papers won't soon be replaced.