MSM Demise

Tribune Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today — the owners of eight major daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.

Last week, the Tennessean laid off 92 people.  The News-Sentinel has recently downsized, eliminating some sections and changing to a smaller format.

Close to home, Gatehouse Media, the parent company of the Oak Ridger, has seen their stock fall from $8.96 per share on Dec. 10 of last year, to 6.9 cents per share just now — less than one-hundredth of the value it represented one year ago.

Jack McElroy of the Sentinel opines that it’s not a lack of readership or faith in the traditional media that is driving the woes, but rather a significant change in their real revenue source:

the problems the newspaper business is facing are due primarily to changes in advertising, especially classified ads, which lend themselves to online searching. Ads pay the bills at newspapers, and when there are fewer ads or they are selling for lower prices, it’s harder to pay the bills.


It costs more to print the dead-wood edition than it used to, and it costs more to deliver it.  The online edition is far cheaper to produce and distribute (and for people like me, brings the added value of not having to pick it up after being strewn all over the kitchen table or living room, then hauled out to the recycle box).

Competition from sites like eBay, Craigslist, CarSoup and others are probably part of the issue, but for some, credibility remains an issue.  When local papers lust for the sensationalism of a tabloid, credibility flies out the window.

Many online newspapers allow reader comments at the end of stories, but this requires vigilance in moderating such comments, as people can and do vent with impunity.  The Sentinel does a decent job of moderating, as evidenced by the many "comment removed by site staff" entries that appear daily.  Unfortunately, the Oak Ridger does not.

It pains me to enjoy the apparent demise of my local paper, but there is hope: with the audacity of youth and sweat equity, one locally-owned, locally-operated newspaper is prepared to weather the storm.

I’ve said before and still believe, Oak Ridgers are intelligent enough to read more than one newspaper.  But only if both are worth reading.

4 Responses to “MSM Demise”

  1. on 08 Dec 2008 at 9:40 pm Harry

    Very well said NM…Very well said.

  2. on 09 Dec 2008 at 3:38 pm Mike

    Couldn’t happen to a better lot though I do not want to see anyone lose their job.

  3. on 10 Dec 2008 at 2:44 pm Bell

    He’s a trooper.

  4. on 17 Dec 2008 at 3:40 pm Stan

    Nah, he’s a nutcase who is too stupid to know what he can’t do…

    Thanks for the great post though. It made my day.


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