Friday, May 22, 2009
Beginning of the end for the daily?
On May 4, the advertising director of The Republican sent out a letter to advertisers of an impending change in the paper's format that was described as "historic."
Beginning June 1, the paper will be a tabloid instead of a broadsheet on Mondays and Wednesdays. The letter from Mark French didn't list any reasons, but a semi-informed person will understand that this is another cost-saving move.
The next step will be the elimination of these editions and the end of the paper's status as a daily.
I really don't want to see this area without a daily paper, but I'm afraid that is what is going to happen.
Before you say, "Well MassLive will take up the daily slack of reporting,” remember that the bulk of MassLive's local news coverage is from The Republican. The question is whether or not the MassLive business model can support daily reporters.
Right now the development of economic models for Web-based daily local news products is in its infancy. The sour economy doesn't help as well. So-called futurists who like to kick the crap out of newspapers seem to forget this fact.
They also conveniently forget that many people depend on newspapers as a source for more in-depth reporting than they see on local TV and that the can afford a paper – especially a free one.
In a city such as Springfield, there are many people without a home computer who cannot be part of the new media. That's an economic fact. I doubt many of the futurist types I've read would be willing to shell out money to pay for computers just so their vision – and ego – is fulfilled.
The plain truth is that for our form of government to survive, the people need access to information. Right now, both the economy and the habits of many people will not allow a wholesale switchover to Web based media. Local news reflects the events that have the most immediate impact on a community and that news is the most endangered by what is going on in media.
© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs