Thursday, January 17, 2008

Barry Kriger, the vet anchor of WWLP is amused by something I said. Hey I always try to add a little humor to things. Sometimes it works. Gawd, I'm rumpled, grey looking guy ain't I? No threat to TV am I! At least I look the part of a newspaper editor.

The above is a shot of yours truly taken during a panel discussion at the recent communications conference at Western New England College in Springfield. Sponsored by the college and the Valley Press Club, the conference has been around five years providing attendees with some good information about the local press, marketing and public relations.

I've been on a panel three or four times and it's an almost odd experience as frequently you're sitting with people with whom you compete. Most of the time everyone plays nice and there is a feeling of colleagues sharing something common.

This year I was on the "mainstream media" panel which frankly made me feel a little odd. I don't consider what I do at a weekly newspaper to be"mainstream." By subject matter, it certainly can be, but the way we package the news and treat our readers I think we are an alternative to the daily and the TV station. That's who I think are mainstream.

In any event, I did have the chance to present my theory on why the press is suffering so much in this area: a declining advertising base as more locally or regionally owned businesses fall to chain stores. Chains don't like to advertise locally. They make their decisions on a national or regionally basis. Without advertising from local businesses, papers such as the ones I edit and write will indeed fall to the wayside.

That's because Americans have been taught that news comes to them at a very low cost or not cost at all. We've had that situation for generations and the new media on the Web is reenforcing that tradition.

If people aren't willing to pay for for a local news product because of declining ads sales, then goodbye local news.

Some folks who pride themselves on being "informed" pay only attention to national stuff. I have little respect for people who can lecture one another on presidential politics but don't know the issues in their neighborhood. Sorry.

The only way a republic such as ours can survive is through intelligent participation. And you need news sources for that. If trends keep going the way they are, there will be less and less local news and we will be all the sorrier for it.

But I bet we'll know what Britney is doing.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Mark Martin said...

I'm lucky enough to live in a VERY small town, so everything I need to know can be overheard at the dump on Saturday. Seriously!

Living in Springfield - God, if I lived there I'd probably throw up my hands and holler. That city is so screwed up I'd bury my head in the sand!

State politics - practically the same thing. The Big Dig is enough to send me packing. But I actually love it here, and somehow manage to be more financially sound than I have ever been in my life. I don't know if that's due to moving north, or growing older.

Ain't life funny!

Tommy said...

Actually that forum has been held for longer than five years, I attended one back in the mid-nineties with Dan Yorke and I think Tom Vannah or Al Giordano.

Of course they tend to be forgettable excercises in navel gazing. I'm sure you were practically the only person there with anything worth saying.