Monday, April 24, 2006

Job Security for the Little People

Got back from Red Wing on Sunday night after a great trip. I got to thinking that most places are lucky to be famous for one thing, be it a landmark or an important native son or daughter. Red Wing is famous for two things. Pottery and, of course, shoes. On top of that it is also a Mississippi River town that has gone to great lengths to protect its heritage while not abandoning industry. Better yet, they still have smoking sections in their restaurants and smoking rooms at their hotels. At some point on Saturday mydearlybefuddled and I decided that Red Wing and Goodhue County must be Republican country. Sure enough, we were right on target.

Today is the first chance I have had to get on the computer for pleasure's sake. I was led to this Hugh Hewitt column via Power Line, which is an interesting read on the state of the newspaper business. Among other things he makes this observation:

The republic is safe as far as news-gathering and reporting, debate and analysis can make it safe. But newspapers and their employees, well, think stagecoach drivers and clipper-ship captains. There are a few of each still around - as conversation pieces.

Hewitt is refering to The Big Boys of course, international dailies that find it harder to compete with 24-hour cable news and the ease of a largely free internet. What's amazing about it though is that more people are likely getting their news from the written word than at any time since, I would suppose, television became an easy and reliable source. An example of reader erosion due to television might be the disappearance of the evening edition.

But now, because of the internet, people are returning to the written word in droves. It is a one time opportunity to foster the rebirth of the written word as news. Unfortunately, the majors have not found a way to capitalize on that opportunity. In no small part that has been aided by their exposure as idealogues from the very same sources whose existence those same papers have stubbornly refused to acknowledge until recently.

If there is an exemption from Hewitt's prediction of extinction I believe it will be community newspapers. Weekly editions that report local news too unimportant for metro TV. There are too few efficient ways to get that city, county, and school district news. My company has come up with some very creative ways to take advantage of its unique market and opportunity. I would love to tell you what some of those are...but then I would have to kill you.

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