Saturday, February 28, 2009

The cheese is moving for print newspapers

I've been a fan of Who Moved My Cheese for some years now -- a little fable about adapting to the changes in one's environment.

I've been a writer for years, both as a journalist and in various public relations and marketing communications positions. I'm currently a freelance writer, working primarily with the Record Searchlight and Enjoy! Magazine.

Journalism is changing. The I-want-it-now mentality, coupled with the *astounding pace of technology and information development, is taking its toll on our traditional news sources, and across the country newspapers, magazines, and publishers are downsizing, cutting, and trying to look at business models that will enable them to survive.

The cheese has moved.

Yesterday, the Rocky Mountain News published its own obituary, just 55 days shy of its 150th birthday. It's one of the Scripps-Howard newspapers, and sadly it joins a list of others that have gone down recently.

The San Francisco Chronicle is periously close to closing -- a Hearst Corp. publication.

And while I, along with millions of others, hate to see the demise of the print newspaper, I suppose it's time. Certainly it appears to be inevitable.

That doesn't mean the news will go away. People read news online, including my beloved, who browses not only online newspapers, but news blogs and magazines. I, on the other hand, love the feel and smell of a print paper in my hands, sitting down for a half hour and drinking coffee and browsing through the news.

It goes back to my childhood: I don't remember a time when there wasn't a daily paper in the house, folded to the crossword puzzle that my dad would pick up and put down all day until it was finished, sports section folded back, or maybe holes where my mother had clipped coupons or recipes. My grandmother's letters always included at least half a dozen clippings about different things -- news of someone she knew, a recipe, a home remedy.

I admit that as the papers have shrunk, the depth of news just isn't there. As reporters have been chopped, fewer local stories are getting covered, and those that are generally are local politics, and even that isn't as in-depth as it might be. There's little money to go around even in-house; freelancers can cover only so much, and generally that is not hard news, but the fluffier stuff. (Nonetheless, people like reading about their friends and neighbors...)

Here's a look at what the future of newspapers may be, and here's a take from four editors in SF. Bottom line: print papers are dead. Long live the news.

The cheese has moved, and I, along with reporters, editors, publishers, and other journalists, need to adapt.

We live in interesting times.

*Makes me wonder if Skynet is closer to being reality than we'd like to think!

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