Is the world of newspapers really as bad off as recently reported? I’ve given this a lot of thought after reading today that Editor and Publisher was going under. In the last few years a lot of newspapers have shrunk, fired staff, closed down, or merged with other news outlets (TV, etc) in response to a diminishing readership and the recent economic crunch. People have asked if this means that newspapers are on their last leg.
No, it doesn’t. In fact, I’m willing to bet that when the newspaper shakedown is over you are going to see the resurgence of the hometown newspaper. In smaller towns there are very few media outlets, and the newspaper still plays a major role in informing the public.
It’s this focusing of effort that will help save newspapers. They will still have to reduce staff, because some of the staff used in the paper’s expansion will become redundant (as they say in the Isles)
In larger towns and cities, regional papers will probably have to revert back to that hometown model – for instance, the Albuquerque Journal (my local paper) needs to refocus from trying to be “New Mexico’s Biggest Newspaper” to Albuquerque’s newspaper. They have a bureau in Santa Fe for the “Journal North/Santa Fe” section that needs to be shut down. Santa Fe has its own paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican, which is successful in Santa Fe while not competing with the Journal in Albuquerque. The Journal will never be able to successfully overthrow the New Mexican, so why not pack it in, bring some of the staff to fill vacancies that have gone unfilled for over a year, and refocus their efforts on their core market?
Another question involves changing the media consolidation rules, while allowing for much smaller, more targeted media outlets to grown. Is this a threat to the current laws limiting consolidation of media outlets in a certain area? If newspapers can’t merge with TV stations and/or radio stations and end up going out of business – is this really better for the community?