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A series of cuts and closures for American newspapers

A series of cuts and closures for American newspapers

In the US, Columbia county newspaper The Independent will print its last ever edition today. The Hillsdale publication currently provides twice weekly local news. Journal Register Co, which owns the Independent, has recently been forced to close or sell others of its some 300 newspapers due to heavy debt and a plunging stock price. In a statement, the company said that The Independent has "fallen victim to the bad economy that has impacted the industry, the region and the nation".

Another victim of the economic downturn is the Gatehouse Daily in Kansas. The newspaper is owned by Gatehouse Media Inc, one of the largest publishers of community newspapers in the US. In a statement on the publication's website and in last week's Thursday-Friday edition, the reasons given were "market forces, challenges specific to the newspaper industry and the loss of a major revenue stream have overwhelmed the newspaper's ability to continue with a profitable business model."
Although not shutting down, The Standard Journal in Idaho is cutting back publication - three days a week instead of five in response to economic circumstance. Publisher Tod Young says the cost-cutting measure was necessary to offset rising production costs and the difficult economic realities.

Even the big hitters aren't immune. The Wall Street Journal has cut a further 14 newsroom positions, in addition to the 11 which have already gone over the past few months. Managing Editor Robert Thomson explained there has been a "precipitous decline in print advertising revenue" which "forced a close examination of our structures and of our costs".

With community and local papers the hardest hit, a decline in localised reporting is affecting communities globally. Many readers will inevitably turn to the Internet to find the news that is relevant to them and not present in the national dailies. But when the national dailies such as the WSJ are cutting staff, what effect does that have on the quality of their journalism? A downturn in the number of local dailies combined with a hypothetical decrease in quality journalism does not spell good news for the newspaper industry. Surely there must be a balance to be struck?

Source: Editor & Publisher, Times Union



Helena Deards


2009-02-06 13:35

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