RIP: Newspapers

Cleve’s local paper, the Plain Dealer formally announced all their staff cuts yesterday. The list of those that were “selected” to leave and those that chose to take the buy-out was released and I know I was shocked. Many reporters that I have followed, pitched, read, admired, etc. chose to leave. I can’t even begin to imagine what this even means for the future of the PD, as they are losing some truly talented individuals.

I recently came across a website called Newspaper Death Watch: Chronicling the Decline of Newspapers and the Rebirth of Journalism.

A few weeks ago, the AP announced it was cutting jobs – up to about 10% of their workforce in 2009.

Then today, our President posted this article on twitter, No Papers in Certain Cities By 2010? The article refers to a recent report put out by Fitch Ratings.

“Fitch expects newspaper industry revenue growth will be negative for the foreseeable future as both ad pricing and linage will be under pressure within each of the four main components of newspaper companies’ revenue streams: circulation and local, classified and national advertising. Newsprint costs could rise, and it could be difficult to offset revenue declines with cost cuts.”

I entered college believing I would become a journalist. I loved to write, loved people, and was always asking questions. It seemed like the perfect job for me! In high school I spent half a year “interning” at our local newspaper and spent a day shadowing a local reporter just to see what her job was like. (Side note: she was a lifestyles reporter, so our day consisted of going to the mall and buying out different candles, then trying them out to see which ones were the best, and writing out our findings. My love for journalism was confirmed.) I changed my mind about journalism halfway through college, realizing that I would rather be on the other side of the fence (PR), but even today have been drawn to newspapers.

I grew up to newspapers. Each morning during breakfast, my parents read the papers (yes papers plural – we always received our local upstate NY paper and the NY Times) and I would grab the comics. When I was older, I had a methodical way of reading the paper: first the comics (Cryptoquip, Sudoku and Dear Abby included!), then the Life & Leisure section, then perhaps the Technology or Business section. Time allowing, I’d read the local and world sections last.

I do have a confession to make – I do not get a newspaper delivered to my apartment now. My parents still do, and when I read at home, there is some sort of luxurious feel to it. I am of the “digital” generation – I do everything online, read papers online, and may be partially responsible for the fate of newspapers. But really, who is to blame? Our world is really changing. What happened to the glorified days of newspapers? I’m thinking of Newsies (one of my favorite movies- hello young Christian Bale singing with a NY accent!) or Citizen Kane times, when newspapers really did rule the city.

Before I drag this post on for too long and your eyes start to hurt (I mean really, isn’t this tiny type just horrible on the eyes?) it should be interesting to see what happens in the next 10 years. Will newspapers become extinct? What else will happen in the strange new economic times we’re facing?

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