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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Who Will Be Around To Run The News Media's Obituary?

surrealism photography of person reading news paper in fire while sitting on stool

The news media gets a bad rap these days. Fake news. Bias. Smaller newspapers. Less resourceful, shrinking news staffs. A social media world, through rumor and gossip, provide awkward, 24/7 competition. Is a society in trouble in the media is weekend?

Absolutely.

A new book explores how the news media is moving towards extinction. Ghosting The News: Local Journalists and the Crisis of American Democracy by Margaret Sullivan demonstrates the news apocalypse that we are living through.

More than 2,000 American newspapers have vanished over the past 16 years. Many more are in a state of ruin, weakened by small advertising revenue and a public that doesn't value real journalism enough to subscribe. People think they can get their news online for free. Local journalism is what is hard to find and it is what keeps the politicians in check, businesses is honest, communities informed, nonprofits in the public eye.

Some suggest a government subsidy for journalism will be needed, so that poses an ethical conundrum. Can we have a free media that is influenced by or dictated to from the government? Those who will pull the purse strings in essence edit the very news we seek to have distributed.

Newspapers have always needed to be more than just a police blotter messenger. They tie their readers together through their words, not just in the news reported but in the op-eds, feature stories, and local profiles that they run with the other staples such as lottery numbers, sports scores, weather, comics, puzzles, obits, etc. The Internet does not do a very good job of replacing the local newspaper.

So what can be done about this loss of local journalism?

Local television and radio stations not completely fill the void and localized website by green amateurs won't do it either. No, the local newspaper is very much needed. Some combination of subscription fees, advertising, donations, and government grants will be needed to save newspapers from complete obliteration. The newspapers will need to bring something to the table too.

They'll have to show their usefulness and uniqueness with great reporting, interesting writing, and useful stories. It will need to be bigger than the napkin size editions that they are putting out today and they will need to be hawked. 

Newspapers politely wait for people to discover them or hope that those who have always read them will stick with them. They need to use a PR campaign, calling upon society's influencers and shakers to endorse the reading of local newspapers.

Newspapers right now are really in danger of going the way of the typewriter. Plus they are far more expensive than the Internet. And the economy's dual Great Recessions bookending the past Dozen is not helping either.

Newspapers used to be the backbone of America's information network. They may not return to that lofty position, but they are better than just being birdcage liner. With help from readers, the community and the government, newspapers might be able to thrive again. 

Our nation, now more than ever, needs a healthy, vibrant media. 


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.

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