>What Is Happening To Our Newspapers: Will They Survive?

>One particular segment of the Rachel Maddow Show intrigued me while watching late last Friday night. Usually I am entranced by her entire show; with her charm, wit and excellent reporting of each days breaking and sustaining news stories, yet this one particular segment piqued my interest. It had been reported a while back that it was probable one of Seattle’s daily newspapers, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, would become a web-based news resource. The owner of the paper, Hearst Corp. had put the flailing newspaper up on the auction block back in January of this year stating it will close down unless a buyer was available to save it. It was also mentioned, if that were to be the case, Hearst Corp. would have the P-I re-emerge as an online-only publication. With the 60-day deadline to find a buyer nearing, it is looking as though we Seattlites will have only one daily soon enough.

Most recently, in late 2007, three smaller newspapers from the Midwest and Plains: the Cincinnati Post, Kentucky Post and Capital Times from Madison, Wisconsin, all went the way of the web. So, while turning solely to the internet for former printed news publications is not an original solution, for Seattle’s second largest daily newspaper it just might be. For the P-I, which began publishing in 1863, would be the first big city paper to join the digital ranks.
According to the reports, those online-based local newspapers have seen substantial gains, not only financial, but in readership as well. Therefore, this departure from print to web-based may help the P-I, at least for now.
With news of other newspapers in numerous large cities filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy itching our minds, On Friday’s show Rachel Maddow interviewed Greg Mitchell, author and Editor for Editor & Publisher Magazine. Doing his best to talk her down, the two discussed the recent news out of Seattle and whether the news media and democracy itself can survive on blogs alone?
It is no surprise of what society, especially people in prominent and affluent positions-within government, entertainment, sports, and business-to name a few think of the media. Like Maddow parlays, from both the left, right and center, the news media is constantly berated with names, for example, “Brain-dead media,” “Mainstream media,” “Drive-by media” . Reminiscent of our middle school days and the bully from the Simpsons who points and laughs repeatedly. “Ah ha, Ah ha, Ah ha!” With multiple newspapers disappearing, we will be hard pressed to continue name calling, pointing and laughing with a mouse in our hand.

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Maddow states, that there is no reason why a free press cannot be evident online. I agree whole-heartedly, but I also feel, as she so eloquently mentions, that within a democracy, there needs to be a plethora of reporters, journalists, photographers dispersing the news full-time. That we cannot survive on blogs alone. I ask the same question, Can we?
Look, I am not saying that blogs authored by, in Rachel Maddow’s words, “spunky, volunteer citizen journalists,” myself included, have to stop or be rendered useless. We all have our reasons of why we began blogging in the first place, whether they be for personal diary-type reasons or to put our name out into the void. But what I believe will be missed if most print turns to digital is the actual feel, the news literally at our fingertips and the objectivity. As Maddow and Mitchell both acknowledged, the use of professional print resources is key to distributing to the masses what our world is doing, and the maintenance of other news mediums like television and radio. Even though I am part of and supportive of the new media, I feel that print journalism is the original key component to our society and a way of garnering and broadcasting local, national and world events. As Greg Mitchell states about newspapers, “I see the tremendous work they do everyday to expose things as real watch dogs.” While commenting as well, that the new media is one of the reasons Barack Obama is in the White House.
Considering our media’s past, their are limits to what our present and future forms will be capable of doing. I do see that our new media, like blogging, that are here now and which will be in the future, are beginning to have sway over a wide range of original coverage which unfortunately has taken away the importance of our professional reporters, editors, and photographers.

With that being the case, while I do enjoy purchasing the newest everything, including supporting any type of new media that comes now and years from now. Nevertheless, I am cognizant of the importance of both a free press and the use and feel of professional print media as well.


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