Sunday, March 15, 2009

The pages keep turning

More bad news for newspapers: the Journal Register company declares bankruptcy (no surprise there). And since the, the Rocky Mountain News (the oldest paper in Colorado, just shy of 150) and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer have stopped printing, going to online-only operation. Time magazine has a piece on the 10 most endangered newspapers in America -- and by "newspapers" it means large, household-name dailies. And the list doesn't even include the Denver and Seattle papers. it does, however, include the Boston Globe.

This trend seem inexorable -- newspapers, liek everyone else, embraced the web and put content on it that they didn't charge for. Meanwhile the print versions were obviously losing tons of circulation. The question remains whether a WWNO (written-word news outlet -- I can't use the word "paper" any more) can sustain itself as a web-only business through online ads and whatever else they can think of. Will online ads generate enough revenue to pay the editorial staff and the techies, without having to subsidize the costly printing and paper distribution operations? We'd better hope so. If not, welcome to a journalism-free society. Ironic that it's easier thsn ever to distribute information, but harder than ever to make money doing so. Foster's Daily Democrat had a recent article about some online community newspapers such as Rye Reflections and the Melrose Mirror. They cost nothing to produce, but they're staffed by volunteers (retirees, mostly), and they're pretty light on hard news, which for community WWNOs means reporting Board of Finance meetings. And let's face it, would anyone go to those meetings if they weren't paid to do so?

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