Monday, February 23, 2009

How Do You Want Your News Tomorrow?

The financial burden from an advertising downturn, rising costs for newsprint, the migration of readers to the Internet, the huge debt some have to service and the general lack of a visible business model that will support the sector in the digital world, has caused many US newsprint operations to question if they can survive and what survival means.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has filed for bankruptcy, the Chicago Tribune has its debt problems, the New York Times has suspended its dividend, and the story goes on to cover what looks like many of the major cities in the US.

Now the Journal Register, publisher of 20 local daily and weekly newspapers, primarily in the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Michigan has filed has for bankruptcy. Also Philadelphia Newspapers, which owns The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and, has also filed for bankruptcy protection in a bid to restructure its $390 million debt.

We have written about the plight of the strip cartoon and how cartoonists have seen the writing on the wall and redefining their relationships.

However there doesn’t appear to be a quick fix to any of the mounting problems of this sector. Some would say that although they fed us the news and offered advice to us all, they just were unprepared for the bad news and change themselves. Is local and specialist news now becoming democratised and are we seeing a fundamental change in how news is created, communicated and digested? Can we honestly see ourselves still buying paper newsprint in the near future and would we be prepared to pay a digital subscription for what is in many cases syndicated news? Why would we pay for news when its free on TV and better tailored to suit our individual needs view the Internet?

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