Wednesday, April 25, 2007
With the recent sales of media conglomerates, the ever shrinking newsroom and the exodus out of the fourth estate, at least one branch of the industry is seeing sunshine while we get cloudy days: the local newspaper. Washington Post reporter Frank Ahrens writes in a March article:
If there's any good news about the businesses of newspapering these days, it can be found at the industry's littlest papers, which are doing well even as their bigger brothers founder.
The average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has declined since 1987. The smallest papers, however -- community weeklies and dailies with circulation of less than 50,000 -- have been a bright spot in a darkened industry. As the Internet dramatically transforms the largest papers in the business -- siphoning classified advertising and commoditizing national news -- many small papers are weathering the decline with relative ease, and some are even prospering.
Why? Small papers face less competition from other media outlets, are insulated from ad slumps that have hammered big papers, employ smaller staffs of lower-salaried journalists and have a zealous devotion to local news, both in print and online, industry experts agree. Also, there is less competition on the Web for local news.
I know Ten95 readers have an opinion about what Ahrens is saying. Would you consider leaving the "mainstream" to work at a small paper - daily or weekly? Why or why not? If you work at a small paper, what advantages do you see to your job? Disadvantages? Should all newspapers focus on hyper-local coverage? Is that where the future of journalism is?