Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


It's hard to read the news these days. Doom and gloom!
But if you head over to the retirment castles, the older residents will tell you about the really bad days.

Twenty-five and thirty percent unemployment. No safety net for bank accounts. Families living in cardboard boxes. Farms, homes, factories abandonded.
Still, that's not much consolation for those out of work. Every industry has been hit, and it's no secret that newspapers have been like the canary in the coal mine for the economy. As advertising and expendable income drops, it gets harder and harder for media companies in their current form to employ all the people and resources required to properly cover the news.
And Pennsylvania is sort of unique in this way, because of the many, many municipalities we have to cover. Other states have larger townships and cities, therefore less meetings to cover. We have many news outlets to do this, but the staffs at most have been reduced by attrition or layoffs.
I still believe in newspapers, whether the printed product that lands on your doorstep in the morning or the web site that focuses on the towns we live in. Radical change will come whether we want it or not.
Our president-elect proposed a WPA-style infrastructure program this week. There is no doubt that we could use this...some of the bridges we drive on and the pipes our water is delivered through were installed during or even long before the Great Depression.
I don't think anybody is proposing a bailout of the news industry; we are pretty much on our own. Fixing this will take a consensus by the public that news is important, and worth supporting with advertising and subscriptions. And for that to happen, the news industry - whether TV or newspapers or web sites - will need to think about what will work for the customers, that is the readers and the advertisers.


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