Monday, March 23, 2009

What Happens When a Town Loses Its Newspaper?

This is a fascinating scenario. On Friday I was illegally arrested whilst driving to Bloemfontein. I since called the Volksblad (no answer on several numbers), called a human being I know at The Times and asked him to contact a reporter (she emailed me on Monday to say sorry she was 'too busy'), and also emailed and contacted 2 or 3 other people.

The result is this news story (police corruption) will not see the light of day in a newspaper, but on a blog. This trend is likely to increase. My blog is small but I am already in a situation where people contact me to air either wire stories or their own. Better blogs will perform this function more and more, and some will even be paid for this.
clipped from
Disused newspaper racks clutter a storage yard without newspapers

A recent Pew study found that fewer than half of Americans say that losing their local paper would hurt their civic life "a lot" and even fewer say they would miss reading it, partly, it seems, because they get their local news from other media, mostly TV. But since papers are the primary source for most other news outlets, a major link will be missing from the news ecosystem. If a paper does not cover a story, it is unlikely to be covered in the broadcast media, whose reporting staffs tend to be even smaller.

"We're almost totally dependent on local newsgathering here," says Dave Ross, a radio host on Seattle's KIRO (AM), who recently moderated a discussion panel on the death of newspapers in his hometown. "We often try to take the story further but it starts with the local papers or their websites." He notes that while there are many bloggers in Seattle, that's not the same as reporters. "My concern is that there will be more opinion and less fact-based reporting."

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