June 26, 2008

A sad day for journalism

Layoffs and the upcoming reduction in news at The Hartford Courant showcase once again the continuing collapse of the American newspaper.
It's particularly sad to see it happening at the nation's oldest continuously published paper, a claim that may not last even another decade at the rate papers are shrinking.
Obviously, I don't have the answer for reversing the trend, but I hope that a way is found to keep papers from becoming historical relics, not because they give me a job (at least for now), but because I love newspapers. I always have.
And it makes me queasy to learn dozens of talented journalists in Hartford will join the long line of reporters and editors across the country who have already been sacrificed in the vain pursuit of profit by those who don't understand that giving people less and less is no way to make newspapers relevant again.
Paring the news and reducing the ranks is not going to win over new readers. It just hastens our collective demise.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I probably won't keep my subscription to the Courant. I doubt it will have any news from Bristol after this is done.

Tim Gamache said...

I agree Steve,it IS sad.Just another example of corporate greed.The only God these college grads,aka:"beancounters" worship is the almighty DOLLAR!They couldn't care less what kind of impact their decision making might have on our society as a whole,just"make money."
The entertainment industry is another good example.Why have our morals declined and our society become much more violent?Why do some place little or no value on human life?One need only to look at todays movies,video games(grand theft auto),music lyrics/CDs/videos.It is all about greed.There is an old saying,"problems begin at the top and trickle DOWN.They do NOT start at the bottom and work their way UP!"Until our leaders stop their halfhearted efforts to make the NECESSARY changes,this decline will continue.

Anonymous said...

I can see many internet websites possibly charging a small fee to access them soon... i.e. newspapers etc. I think it's going to be the new wave in delivering news and information. Newspapers will eventually go away and people will get all their info online...for a fee similar to the cost of a daily newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Money is the mothers’ milk of any business. If there are continuing losses sustained what should the newspaper do? I agree that reductions in the availability of detailed news is a loss to the community at large but how about we blame the blog operators and the bloggers who provide so much information the printed page becomes less relevant. Or we blame Al Gore for inventing the internet.

The fact is that the newspaper game was structured so that subscriptions and ad sales were the income generators and editorial and reporting was the product. It is the loss of ad sales that is crippling newspapers. The rates keep soaring to unfathomable highs, less people advertise so they raise the rates again. Meanwhile more folks get their news on line or from the daily show and circulation falls leading to even less value for advertisers.

It is sad but all communication mediums are evolving and the newspaper business is part of that revolution. The time was the LOCAL paper had local readers and local advertisers and specials; tabloid sections and advertising packages were the norm. Once the big chains starting sucking up the locals and imposing their rates and their policies; local news suffered.

Time for Steve to become a talking head on CNN or FOX.

Anonymous said...

Maybe people are fed up with the "editorializing" by reporters, and just want factual and complete reporting.

Anonymous said...

An interesting piece concerning the Courant layoffs aired on CT Public Radio this morning. It's available as a stream or download at http://www.cpbn.org/program/where-we-live/episode/courant-cutbacks

cseguin said...

Mr. Gamache: I understand your frustration, but blaming it on the "college grads" is a bit misplaced. Many of the journalists who will be laid off are, indeed, college grads.

As to the rest: I'm not sure that the "editorializing" makes that much of a difference. People gloss over it a bit now, but if you look back over the history of journalism, back to the Henry Luce era, through Edward Morrow to the present, there has always been a certain amount of editorializing.

You can look to a variety of factors for this sad turn of events; it could be a failure to account for the rise in online media, poor financial judgment, or a misreading of the business landscape. Whatever the case, as someone with a journalism degree who enjoys reading the local papers, I am definitely saddened by situations like this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another reasoned comment, Mr. Seguin. Your thoughts are always a nice break from the dribble that most posters offer.
Speaking of which, the sad truth is that so many people are content to get their "news" from blogs and other questionable sources instead of from professional reporters like Steve. Sure, he has his own opinions, but he does a great job of presenting all the sides to any story.

Tim Gamache said...

csequin: Yes,I would have to agree the use of the term"college grads" was a generalization.You're quite correct,some of those who will find themselves out of work will indeed be grads.I stick by my opinion of the "beancounters" however,they have no conscience!

cseguin said...

@ 11:55 pm: Thank you for the kind words. I know not everyone on here agrees with my views (I have received emails to that end, although I'm unsure how they got my email), but I just hope we can respect each other's differences of opinion. I think this blog elicits a lot of healthy debate, and that's a good thing.

@ Mr. Gamache: I agree, it can be frustrating when we see these good things in our society, such as newspapers, falling victim to financial decisions.

The only point I would disagree on is that it seems the blame should be on those on the front end of the process, not necessarily on the "beancounters" at the tail end. I wonder if those who hold the authority at these newspapers adequately prepared for the "new media" revolution, so to speak.

This blog shows that there can be a healthy combination of the two, the mainstream media and the electronic media. I think that an earlier recognition of this could have saved many newspapers.

Hopefully things rebound, and Bristol has the Press around for many many years to come. I echo Steve in that a local newspaper is much too vital to the community to be lost.

Tim Gamache said...

csequin: Ergo my reference to the axiom "problems start at the top and work their way down and Not the reverse."It is my opinion the "beancounters" are much closer to the top of the ladder than the bottom.I agree completely that losing a local newspaper would be a travesty of epic porportion.I would like to see the Press remain for many years to come.While the Press may have some shortcomings,it is indeed a necessary establishment in our city.