More local newspapers will shut down this year. Those still hanging on will either reduce pages or days of publication. Many will run syndicated content.
The Internet started the journalism purge well over 15 years ago. Readers and advertisers no longer interested. And it’s not over yet.
Covid accelerated the decline of these once great news organizations. To be sure, we can’t place all the blame on that pesky inter-web and a virus from China.
If we wanna point some fingers, we suggest you hone in on those newsrooms that lost their way. Publishers sat back and watched as their editors forgot about business models and digital disruption.
Instead of local newspapers covering neighborhood news, many became SJW camps. Activists for social justice issues and national politics. Why scare away almost half of your potential audience?
Print publishers facing catastrophic loss of advertising revenue. Subscriptions harmed by politically-biased news coverage. Very few ‘middle of the road’ publications.
Newsroom layoffs and shut downs leave behind a weak and hollowed-out staff. The few that remain are unable to provide much needed, local journalism.
The Newspaper decline does more than just kill jobs. It allows corruption and municipal mismanagement to flourish.
Decline of local journalism leads to less public awareness and reduced civic engagement. Especially in towns with high percentage of non-voting 2nd homeowners. ex: seashore towns.
With watchful eyes, corruption and incompetence typically go down. Both go up when no one’s watching.
Another phenomenon: fewer people run for local office when newspapers disappear.
One could make the argument that the cost of government goes up when there’s little or no oversight from local citizens and reporters.
Those in charge like to control information. Protect the narrative. Who wouldn’t?
The average Joe or Jane doesn’t regularly exercise their right to know. Example: Taking advantage of OPRA requests.
Loss of local journalism has negative impact on economic recovery. Lack of coverage on small business.
Misguided local news orgs in bed with Facebook and Google; tech companies that helped decimate local new orgs. Just following in the footsteps of Craigslist.
Business has limited interest in plain old advertising. Better utilization of digital is what they want.
Message and brand awareness. Make the phone ring. Grow retail foot traffic. Build email database. Higher search engine results. Simple, effective, easy to maintain and inexpensive websites.
Small towns losing local newspaper reporters. Circulation dropping. At one time, household penetration was over 75%. Yup. 3 out of 4 homes subscribed to a local newspaper.
In Chicago, City Bureau’s “Documenters” program. Average citizens paid to take notes or digitally record local government meetings. Cleveland doing this too. Do stuff like this, and you get much more government transparency.
After a decade of wandering in the dark, some newspapers are waking up to hyper-local tactics.
For example, The Philadelphia Inquirer is trying neighborhood newsletters. (it’s about time) On the other hand, the owners were not so smart in dumping the string PHILLY.com brand, for the old & stodgy INQUIRER name & web domain.