Newspapers

Within five years, the report claimed, only four major daily papers will continue in print form. ~ See full article from DailyFinance:http://srph.it/uGjrd3

When I want to know the news, I look to the internet. I haven’t watched an evening news broadcast in years. Cable news is relentless droning on and on, endlessly attempting to make every story a “breaking news” or “alert”.  By choosing to find my news on the internet I can do so faster, find more updated stories, and see exactly the story in which I am interested. Whether local, national or international, most news items are within reach of my internet connection. So why would I pay for a rolled up piece of paper to be thrown into my driveway every day?

The truth is that I like reading the newspaper. I am not currently a subscriber to our local paper – and that is part of why I’m thinking about this today. I would like to subscribe, but I lose motivation. As someone outside of the newspaper industry, here is what would drive me to subscribe to the local paper:

*Two Way Communication. Although our local paper has an online edition, a Twitter and a Facebook presence, the communication is all one way. If I send in inquiry through on Facebook or Twitter it will receive no response. Either no one is paying attention or there is no interest in this kind of relationship. This is not the way the world works anymore. In addition, the comments made on the internet site under each story are appalling. If these are not going to be monitored, then they should not be available. Most of it is mean, hate-filled, and worthless.

*Local news … only. When I look at the front page of our local paper I do not desire to see news from other states or even other countries. That information is available free of charge all over the place. Why would I pay to have it in my local paper? Reprints from the AP may be informative, but I do not choose to pay for those. I’d much rather read about what’s happening in my own community. And I’d like it to be written by someone who lives here.

*Encourage local writers. I am sure in our community there are any number of local writers who are talented enough to submit editorials and articles of interest. This is more interesting to me than the editorials and writings from afar. I like our local editorials, even though they appear to be written by a conglomeration of people rather than the editor alone.

*Promote local businesses, opportunities, events. Our paper does a pretty good job of this in special editions and sections.

*Obituaries are one way a local paper can be of great service to the community. However, because of exorbitant charging for obituaries most people keep them very short. I think this is sad, because there are some great stories out there to be told about the lives that have now come to an end. Those stories are seldom told because the obit is a profit generator for the paper.

*Consider a less than daily schedule. Considering the availability of daily news, does our paper have to be daily? Could it come out 3 times a week perhaps? I remember the weekly paper we enjoyed in the Mississippi Delta. It had articles written from the various regions of the county … some of it was kind of funny (though unintentionally so) … but it had a quaint charm. If the paper is not the primary source of daily news, then what makes it a daily need? When I did pay for a subscription sometimes three or four papers would pile up before I got the chance to read them.

I guess in a way I think in order for local newspapers to survive they must become more LOCAL and less GLOCAL. It’s a throwback idea for sure. But the truth is that most local papers cannot compete with the big papers (even though some of them are owned by the big papers), and they cannot compete with the online offerings of news. They are also faced with the reality of a failing economy and people cutting every corner they can.

No one asked me, but these are my thoughts about newspapers. I’d be much more likely to subscribe to a bi-weekly or weekly paper that was about this local area, with local writers, and advertisers. Maybe I’m weird and this would be the end of the paper. I don’t know. It just seems to me that it is time for local papers to become the chronicles of the local areas once again.  If I want to know what happened in Boston, I’ll Google it.

~John

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