Another Bad Day For Journalism

the_record_bergen_county_front_pageSad to read about the job slaughter announced today at the Bergen Record, just across the Hudson from NYC. Whether you read newspapers or not, please understand, they are the originator of most news you read online or see on TV.

At one time the Record had a great reputation with a Pulitzer and loads of other awards. Its readers were upscale, so desirable to advertisers.

Yes, newspaper people, I have seen your nightmare scenario — TV reporters heading out, carrying your story in their hands. Your hard work goes unattributed. Most viewers think TV found the story.

Someone needs to find a sustainable model for the kind of journalism newspapers do. They deliver (or delivered) both in-depth and esoteric reporting. They follow school boards and town councils. Their reporters have beats.

Newspapers always out-reporter TV stations they compete with. It’s more expensive to support a TV reporter. Meanwhile revenue for both newspapers and TV is falling rapidly as more-and-more voices appear online. Death by a thousand cuts.

The Internet helped drive inefficiency from the advertising market. You are less expensive to reach online.

But at what cost?

Journalism in many ways is what sets our country’s history apart from most others. Newspapers kept an eye on pols and business. They exposed corruption — more than anyone else, ever.

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” – Mark Twain

Who’s gonna do that now?

10 Responses to “Another Bad Day For Journalism”

  1. NancyB says:

    I grew up with 3 newspapers a day in our house – local morning and afternoon edition and NY Daily News. Weekends included NH Register, Daily News and a Boston paper (no idea why!)
    Now it’s only one a day (Meriden Record-Journal) and I don’t think I could start my day without reading it. Even when I’m out of town I read my electronic subscription.

    • Geoff Fox says:

      I’m sure the White family appreciates your continued patronage at the Record-Journal. It’s one of the few remaining family owned papers.

      However, even it’s hyphenated name says there were once at least two dailies in Meriden!

      • NancyB says:

        I believe the morning edition was the Meriden Record and the afternoon edition was the Meriden Journal both put out by the Whites.

  2. Debbie Z says:

    I NEED my newspapers. Yes, I can get the news online, or on the radio, or TV. But I love sitting down with a cup of coffee and my papers. Sunday mornings used to be the New York Times, The Bridgeport (now Connecticut) Post and the NY Daily News. I’ve given up on the Times only because of budget, but Saturday and Sunday are still the CT Post and the NY Daily News. Every day I get the Daily News to read on the train on the way home. (I find the tabloid size easier to deal with on the train – never got the hang of the “commuter fold” to read the paper.)

    When I travel, I get a local paper every day, no matter where I am. Small town USA or London, UK. I find it easier to see what’s going on because the information isn’t restricted to a 30 second sound bite. I can get more detail. Sometimes the best part of the story is in the last 2 paragraphs.

  3. Peggie says:

    Thank you, Geoff, on behalf of former and present “ink-stained wretches.”

  4. Joe Heffel says:

    I heartily recommend the NY Times on line. It’s cheap, comprehensive, authoritative, literate, and saves the trees. It also employs some very good journalists, columnists, and highly regarded specialists in the arts, sciences, education, food, style and opinion.

  5. Scott Thompson says:

    Same with local TV news. When I started in television in 1981, there was ABC, NBC and CBS local stations with newscasts, and a few independent stations that could manage some local news, maybe. Cable system might have 36 channels. Today, cable is so expensive because you must pay to get 500 or more channels, that’s insane. Now the advertising revenue is watered down, so that the local affiliates are just a shadow of what they were once. Without local TV news and newspapers, I can’t imagine what the future of news will be like? Just the Fifth Estate?

  6. John S. says:

    Tracey O’Shaughnessy from the Waterbury Republican-American recently spoke at the Cheshire library about “How the Decline of Newspapers Hurts Us All.”
    It was sobering to see all the gray-hairs in the audience, myself included! Talk about a unintentional demographic survey.

    I too am a long-time subscriber of the Meriden Record-Journal. I tell my co-workers, who can be scornful of our papers, that they’ll miss them when they’re gone. It’s too bad that they can’t find a way to profit off people’s interest in content, which is still in demand. Newspapers invented the hyperlink,I believe. TV news is cringe-inducing, no offense.

  7. meredith says:

    Paul Bass and his colleagues at the New Haven Independent site have been ahead of the curve on this — reporters who have been laid off from the Register and the Advocate have gone there to do hyper-local reporting, to everyone’s benefit. They even launched an online hyper-local radio station this year to augment their coverage. I follow the Independent on Twitter to keep up on breaking news. This site is supported by member subscriptions as well as ads – I can’t speak to the state of their bottom line, but I think it’s an excellent model that can help keep journalism alive.

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