The Future of Newspapers

A recent column in our local newspaper announced that they were going to be cutting back the days that they publish from five days to three.

This is a real bummer, but something I saw coming.

A friend who works at The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon, wrote to me months ago that they were having to take mandatory time off. Soon afterward, my best friend was laid off from her executive position at the Orange County Register. She was later re-hired by the parent company, only to find out just recently that she has to take mandatory furlough every quarter, resulting in a 10-12% pay cut. Another good friend is the Advertising Director for a newspaper in Southern California. He’s admitted that revenue is down, and that they’re getting “creative” with their sales promotions.

I used to work for the Los Angeles Daily News (Media News Group), and also for The Bulletin (Western Communications), so I have a bit of insight on this.

I love newspapers. The ritual of opening a paper while sitting down to relax, choosing what articles to read, catching up on local advertising… it feels good. It’s relevant.

Yet, I also (obviously) love the internet. I get most of my news from online sources, and have my favorite sites bookmarked so that I can read the most up-to-date headlines as they happen.

So here’s my take on this. I can understand why newspapers in large metropolitan areas are having such a decline in advertising revenue. Those areas are full of people who rely on the Internet for their news, and so circulation of newspapers has gone down and thus, advertising revenue.

But small towns such as the one I live in rely on local newspapers for area information. Yahoo, Google, CNN, MSNBC, etc. aren’t going to have the details regarding our annual Miner’s Jubilee on their front page. They aren’t going to tell us of new businesses opening, or of activities that are important to us.

The other reason I am bummed about this is that Western Communications (who is also the parent company of our local newspaper) was a great employer when I worked for them. They treated everyone who worked there fairly; gave us great benefits such as profit-sharing & health insurance. To have a large-scale employer have to cut back will severely hurt those small towns that they are deeply invested in. Baker City, Crescent City, Brookings, La Grande, and Sonora are all relatively small towns, and to find a new job in a related field will be difficult, as those related fields will be suffering as well.

A bummer all around.

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3 Responses to The Future of Newspapers

  1. Dave Goodman says:

    As I’m sure you know, it’s not just declining circulation but declining advertisers, who are either going out of business, advertising elsewhere, or using craigslist.

    I love to read the paper at the dinner table, and I love getting the local news, however slanted it may be. On the other hand… it saddens me to see all the paper and fuel used for this purpose. I’m so looking forward to the day when I have something like a large, affordable, open Kindle-type e-reader that can replace my daily paper.

  2. Lyle says:

    In the case of the Bulletin, there is a certain amount of the people in Bend who they have offended in their reporting also.

    One of the worst is their decision a few years ago to change from reporting on local restaurants to hiring a critic. This critic who seems to have a high regard for himself even insures that his full name be attached to his articles. John Gottburg Anderson.

    He has written two rather cutting articles on us (one of which he claimed to have gotten sick after eating our food) and even worse on others of which some are very popular in our area.

    I have called and talked to the editor in charge of that department and told her that I would wonder if our town is big enough for a critic and whether his remarks that offend some might hurt them in circulation. She was rather short in her answer that yes, the town is big enough and no, they were not concerned that anyone has been offended.

    What might reinforce my statement is how some of who he has held in highest regard no longer are in business here. One, Miranda, left town owing many of the businesses and former employees while John went to his going away party.

    I love reading newspapers but will not purchase a Bulletin while that man is in their employ. And you know that I am not a vindictive man.

  3. wendy says:

    I don’t think I could start my day without the newspaper spread out in front of me and my coffee cup near my right hand. I don’t mind reading the news online, but I prefer it on newsprint with the crossword puzzles and sudoku for after the news.

    I can’t say I’m a huge fan of The Bulletin. They seem to miss a lot of news. Also, I swear they reprint the same stories more than once. I’ll read something, and then it’s there again another day. Once I would think I imagined, but this has happened over and over.

    I’ll keep my subscription, but only because my other option is the Oregonian, and I prefer local news.

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