Last call for the dead-tree media
I used to work at a newspaper called the Cape Girardeau News Guardian. It was a rare thing: a start-up newspaper. It began about six months before I joined up, and it ceased publication about a year after I left to return toPeoria.
But could you just imagine? Someone STARTING a newspaper!
And it was a glorious paper. It was started by a group of dissident business people in Cape Girardeau. They were sick of the go-along-to-get-along lard-assed Chamber of Commerce types that ran the city. This group included the owner of the daily newspaper, the Southeast Missourian. And his paper reflected this lard-assed, Chamber of Commerce attitude.
We covered everything. Our stories were longer. They were better, too. They were certainly better edited. We certainly worked longer hours (I just recently got caught up on lost sleep). We had a City Hall reporter, her name was Patty Lamb, who remains to this day the best I have ever worked with.
And we were published twice a week. Yeah, it was frustrating having a daily newspaper mentality when we published on Wednesday and Sunday. But we sucked it up and and did it. Sometimes we really pushed the deadlines because the next issue was four days later.
I’m thinking about the News Guardian as I am reading about how the New Orleans Times-Picayune was going to start printing only three days a week.
You would think someone peed in the reporters’ coffee.
You see, this would make New Orleans the largest city in America without a daily newspaper. And it is driving the media crazy with indignation.
My advice: Folks, the quality of the journalism you do does not depend on the frequency of your publication. Let that sink in. You do not have to work for a seven-days-a-week newspaper to produce kick-ass journalism. Keep working. Keep calling sources. Think about it. You will have a little bit more time to go out and work your beats. You will have time to think about what you write before you write it.
Are the owners trying to switch to all digital, as some reporters have claimed? I dunno. If they are smart, the probably are. For a variety of reasons, the Internet is a vastly superior way of disseminating news. It’s cheaper and quicker
If we were inventing from scratch a means of collecting the news and distributing it for money, we would laugh out of the room ANYONE who suggested the best way to do it was on a printing press. We would similarly laugh at anyone who suggested we hand deliver it door-to-door. Strangely, THIS business model is considered vastly superior to anything else by the best and brightest minds in the news biz. Seriously. I kid you not.
In the end, every piece of news is going to be delivered this way. So get used to it.
Or, this could just be a case of dumb-ass newspaper management. There’s a ton of that going around. We know about dumbass-newspaper managers in Peoria. So it’s entirely possible the bosses at the Times-Picayune just don’t know what else to do. In this case, my advice is just the same: Keep plugging away, if for no other reason than stubborn pride.
And on a related note: The Blog Peoria Project has become a full-time gig. My employer is letting everyone go. Our last day is June 11. I am going to take advantage of this and start blogging full time.
Actually, “blogging” is a bit of a misnomer. I’ll be running The Blog Peoria Project as a citizen journalism site. Most of the content is free, but original reporting (and there will be more after June 11) will be behind a pay wall. You can subscribe for $3 a month (just $1 for the first month) or $30 a year.
I’m excited, and a little nervous.
But I’ll be bringing Internet-only journalism to Peoria. No printing it on dead trees. No door-to-door delivery. I’ll just be pressing the publish button, and there it is on your laptop. Others have done the same thing elsewhere, but I am the River City’s first.