Newspapers and “News”

I’m beginning to wonder how long print newspapers will last. I happen to like print newspapers, at least the way newspapers used to be printed and distributed. These days, however, I’m finding them of less and less value.

For example, take our local daily newspaper, which theoretically serves Cedar City and St. George. It has a smattering of national news, largely garnered from the USA Today news feed, as well as perhaps two local stories, and a few more St. George stories. It used to cover cultural and entertainment events in Cedar City as well as the local university and high school sports teams. I’ve seen exactly one university sports story in the past several weeks, one high school sports story, and no cultural stories for Cedar City… and maybe one story a day about local Cedar news. And the coverage of the university in St. George isn’t much better, except about the scandal that occurred when the University president tried to fire tenured professors on various trumped up charges.

And for 20% of the content that the paper once delivered, the national conglomerate that owns the paper has now doubled the subscription price.

I also take the Salt Lake Tribune, except I can only get the “paper” edition on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and most of the time the paper never gets delivered before 11:00 A.M. and sometimes, it’s after noon. Like the local paper, the Tribune has cut back on staff and coverage. It seldom covers events south of the Salt Lake Metro area, and, from what I can tell, it’s almost given up on covering books, with one Sunday edition dealing with books every month or so.

We do have a weekly “county” newspaper, and it does a far better job on local news and local high school sports, with spotty coverage of the university sports, and minimal, if any, coverage of cultural events at the university.

Electronic media, at least so far, hasn’t filled in the gap, and as a result, attendance at cultural events is down markedly, unsurprisingly, since they’re not being covered, and one concert series that’s been in existence for over 80 years may well phase itself out in the next year or so.

One of the problems, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, is that there are really no “general” electronic news/communication networks. While I hate doing it, I can cobble together national news in some depth from internet electronic services, but for local news…forget it.

4 thoughts on “Newspapers and “News””

  1. Shannon says:

    Aside from providing information on local entertainment and happenings, many legal notices are required to be published in newspapers. It will be interesting to see what the alternative will be if newspapers are no longer available or presumed to reach everyone. Should a county maintain a Facebook pages for required public notices?

    I recently moved to a small town in Texas (approx. 30k) and was trying to find information on local election candidates. Even the newspaper didn’t have it and the candidates certainly didn’t have web pages. It will be interesting to see how local information circulates if newspapers disappear.

  2. Hanneke says:

    I’ve seen many (even quite small) towns maintain a website in the town name, not just for their own “town hall” information but also as a sort of “digital main street”, which local people and businesses and sports clubs and homeowners associations etc. can join/subscribe to for free, and add information to, in the relevant sections, or put news items on.
    They almost always host an event calendar that any member can nominate events for. They generally also contain a Twitter widget which shows all the tweets with hashtags containing the town’s name.
    Often, the local police and/or fire brigade maintain a section where they put up important information, and maybe a weekly or monthly short column about the things that happened in that time, or things to watch out for.
    If the town council could partner with the county newspaper to set up and run a site like that, that might work best – it helps support the necessary (for those legal notices, and thus often subsidised) local newspaper, which can publicise the existence of the site and promote everybody partaking.
    You have to be a bit careful in how you organise this. One option would be, if a business takes out an add in the council paper it will also be shown on the site (in a section like Commercial and sales news) – that way the shop gets a two-for-one, and you don’t take away the paper’s revenue source.

  3. Tim says:

    In Suffolk UK we had to ditch the electronic village newsletter as only 93 out of 200 residences offered email addresses. So we reverted to paper to reach everyone. One bservation is that more thought now seems to go into preparing it.

    Nationally there is a big decline in paper circulation as more people use the electronic versions. One paper has stopped paper altogether (The Independent), and others are not that concerned with diminishing paper sales.

    It is just a matter of time before others follow.

    Like paper cheques. Shops rarely take them now.

  4. R. Hamilton says:

    I was about to suggest the online Patch publication, with many local editions. But I only see two for Utah, Salt Lake City and Across Utah (everywhere else).

    A 2015 ranking of population density of 56 US states and territories put Utah in 46th place. I suppose that’s a partial explanation, but I suspect the narrowness of the pursuit of profits is self-defeating if lack of useful information drives down circulation. It may also be cultural; New England for example ranges from far left (Vermont) to rather conservative (New Hampshire), but most of New England has a tradition of local institutions, whether governance by town meeting, or probably local press. Utah certainly seems to be below that in the latter, at least.

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