Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Withering on the vine
So both the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Springfield Republican have announced layoffs in the past two days (and even--GOD FORBID--the Valley Advocate), but they were quick to point out that no editors or reporters were caught in the collateral damage.
Of course, the reporters and editors now have to shovel snow, clean toilets and deliver newspapers on their way to work.
Interestingly they all blame the current economic meltdown as the culprit; but insiders know all too well, the real story is spelled I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T.
Strangely, both the Gazette and Republican were fairly early Web adopters although –more so the Gazette—they used the basic template /business model of paper and ink.
The Gazette, for instance, still charges a subscription fee for news content and Masslive (the Springfield Republican) do not. And Masslive continues to attract tons of eyeballs with all the many varied Forums for folks to freely bitch under cover of anonymity.
Over the past 26 years my tiny health club karate business would spend at least $10,000 annually--and sometimes twice that--in display advertising with these three. Over the past six months I’ve spent zero.
Will our local print professional news purveyors survive? Sure they will! But it’s going to get worse, and with inside information available on the Net 24/7 I’m not so sure the loss of our provincial publications—the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Amherst Bulletin--would be a major setback for controlling corruption in The Happy Valley (or just plain stupidity, which is equally bad.)
I have always believed the watchdog role is job #1 for a newspaper, and the Gazette/Amherst Bulletin lost sight of that a long time ago (or at the very least, lost all of their teeth).
But Springfield would be a disaster without the Republican.