Monday, December 29, 2008

Why Are Newspapers Dying: A Local Theory

Some of these difficulties make sense: print newspapers are dealing with a cultural change in the way that we read and gather news. We’re just surrounded by access to information. When I was young, I remember waking up as early as I could to read the Great Falls Tribune to get the box score of the Padres game the night before, because it was the only place I could get the news in my cable-free house. If the game was on the West Coast, I usually had to wait until the following day. Today, I can’t avoid hearing the score of the game, much as I would like to, given the poor play of the Padres. I can get an update on my cell phone, catch the score on half a dozen cable channels, watch the game on my computer, or TIVO it for later viewing. I control where I get the information, and from whom, just like my news.

To some extent, it appears that small local papers have not adjusted to this sea change. I regularly read 24 hour old AP wire stories about international and national affairs in the Independent Record. These stories don’t offer anything new, and unlike 10 years ago, don’t even inform the average reader, who has already heard the story.

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