Our friends in the newspaper industry are increasingly working through virtual channels. Along the way, many reporters find themselves over-extended, being asked by management to cover their beats and write their news stories, but also keep up blogs, respond to reader comments, and even deliver multi-media content. And it all comes at a time when the vanishing newspaper is the talk of the trade.
Most managers in the (newspaper) industry have reacted to the collapse of their business model with a spiral of budget cuts, bureau closings, buyouts, layoffs, and reductions in page size and column inches. Since 1990, a quarter of all American newspaper jobs have disappeared. The columnist Molly Ivins complained, shortly before her death, that the newspaper companies’ solution to their problem was to make “our product smaller and less helpful and less interesting.” That may help explain why the dwindling number of Americans who buy and read a daily paper are spending less time with it; the average is down to less than fifteen hours a month. Only nineteen per cent of Americans between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four claim even to look at a daily newspaper. The average age of the American newspaper reader is fifty-five and rising.
So let's talk about North Carolina's newspapers this week. Tell us about the newspapers that serve your community. How are they doing? What value do they provide? How could they be improved?