The Times has a very touching obituary for a small town newspaper in Bristol, Conn. The Bristol Press is yet another local newspaper to bite the dust in the past few years. And with it goes information about births and deaths of people too ordinary to gain the notice of the New York Times, photos of the boy scouts in the Memorial Day Parade, and summaries of Town Council meetings.
Local papers aren't the only ones in trouble. The Tribune company filed for bankrupcy protection earlier this month. They may be as much as $13 billion in debt. The New York Times plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building. The Christian Science Monitor ceased producing a paper version of its news.
Both large and small newspapers have many of the same problems. A decline in readership, especially amongst young people. A decline in advertising. Newspapers typically gain most of their advertising from the real estate and automobile industries — both of which have troubles of their own right now. The competition with online media and iphones and wiis. A busier world, where people don't have the time to open the paper or get home in time to watch the evening news.
The impact of the downfall of traditional media is obvious. What to do about it is far less obvious. We need new ideas for old media.
Some people have suggested revamping the text – making it more punchy, funny, and light. Others want to rethink the advertising — putting ads on the front page, putting more ads on the websites, charging the consumer more. The most desperate are suggesting government subsidies of the industry.