Monday, March 09, 2009

Fit to Print?

As much as I appreciate new media tools like blogs and YouTube and podcasts, I must say that am very worried about how good old-fashioned newspapers and magazines will survive this economic crisis. At least one or two mornings a week, I try to grab a New York Times while headed through Grand Central. For $1.50, it's both good reading for the train ride -- and a way to help the cause of print journalism.

I'm sad to say I can't do the same for my one-time employer of fond memory, the Observer-Reporter of Washington, PA. I'm especially concerned for how that old county daily is faring during this economic crisis. I visit the O-R Website everyday to keep up with the home front. If the O-R ever ceased to print, it would be a very serious blow to the economy, political life and community life of Washington and Greene counties in Pennsylvania.

In "The Media Equation" column of today's NYT Business section, David Carr writes about the troubled newspaper industry.

He begins:

Back when I was a young media reporter fueled by indignation and suspicion, I often pictured the dark overlords of the newspaper industry gathering at a secret location to collude over cigars and Cognac, deciding how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time.

It probably never happened, but now that I fear for the future of the world that they made, I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.

Even casual followers of the newspaper industry could rattle off the doomsday tick-tock: a digitally enabled free fall in ads and audience now has burly guys circling major daily newspapers with plywood and nail guns. The Rocky Mountain News is gone, The San Francisco Chronicle is on the bubble, and dozens of others are limping along on the endangered list.

Magazine and newspaper editors have canceled their annual conferences (good idea: let’s not talk to one another). But perhaps someone can blow a secret whistle and the publishers and editors could all meet at an undisclosed location.

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