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Missing The Point

Susie Madrak caught some comments by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on the failing newspapers. He talks about giving “newspapers more leeway to merge or combine operations” to help them out.

Dude, you missed the lesson.

The media moguls say they need to consolidate to reduce costs and regain profitability. What they leave out is the fact that their biggest increase in costs is the debt they took on to consolidate. They borrowed so much money to consolidate profitable newspapers, that they can’t afford to make their payments.

The product of newspapers is news, and local news is their niche market. You can get national and international news from all kinds of outlets, but the local newspaper reporters are the only source for local stories. No one buys the local to read wire service stories; they want to know about what’s happening locally. When you cut the local reporting to “save money”, you are eliminating the reason people buy the paper. No one makes it a point to stop by a Starbucks for a cup of regular coffee; they stop because they want the unique drinks that Starbucks offers. Local papers have to have local news, and that’s what the corporate managements have been cutting, which is why the papers are dying. If a newspaper lacks a unique voice and product, it will fail.

4 comments

1 Comrade Kevin { 03.19.09 at 4:57 pm }

And they’ve been using out of date methods for so long that the internet partially sprung up to provide a much fresher source of news then they were providing.

They have only themselves to blame.

Comrade Kevin´s last blog post..I’m Still Not Sure How I Feel About This

2 Bryan { 03.19.09 at 5:38 pm }

The thing is that there are still papers worth reading around, like the Yukon News out of Whitehorse, that is published three times a week, and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. They tell you what is going on locally, and they definitely have attitude, i.e. they don’t use “expletive”, if you say it, it will be in print.

Blogs are a reaction to bland or non-existent reporting, but the loss of subscribers was the lack of a quality product, not the ‘Net.

The Yukon News puts up the breaking news, but all of their in-depth stuff is delayed a week.

Their local competitor makes you subscribe to see anything.

3 LadyMin { 03.20.09 at 6:52 pm }

Fortunately I still have a decent newspaper. The struggle to maintain circulation is nationwide, but the bigger problem for the Tribune (as you have already noted) is the debt load. Recently the paper was redesigned and shrunk in size with less targeted local news (ie specific suburban areas) but complaints quickly brought that section back to the paper. I give them credit for attempting to innovate and responding to feedback.

I saw an article last week, Many Would Shrug if Their Local Newspaper Closed, which is a really disturbing trend.

As many newspapers struggle to stay economically viable, fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Even fewer (33%) say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper a lot if it were no longer available.

The local paper are the people who keep your state and local government in line and investigate those salmonella outbreaks and dangerous product designs. The internet isn’t doing it… and neither is the network news.

4 Bryan { 03.20.09 at 7:45 pm }

The problem is that too many of the local papers have stopped doing it, and lost their value to the community. The Local Puppy Trainer seems to have woken up to the problem, or just hates the people currently in control, and is starting to commit blatant acts of reporting.

The Gannett paper over in Pensacola is eating itself, and may not survive.