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Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Biggest Victim of Weekly Newspapers' Demise: Good Government

Alternative weekly newspapers are going out of business all over the country, leaving a huge void in local government coverage. Who will scrutinize city halls now?

The front page of the Philadelphia City Paper’s final issue, which came out in early October, showed a typewriter sitting on a desk and a simple message: “Goodbye, Philadelphia.” The old-school image carried both sentimental and symbolic value. The black Royal typewriter in the picture originally belonged to the alternative newsweekly’s first publisher when he helped found the paper in 1981. Somehow it stayed with the staff, even through four office moves, as new technologies rendered it completely obsolete, and as the weekly’s circulation climbed to 300,000 in the mid 1990s and then dwindled to 56,000 by the time it ceased publishing.

City Paper joins a number of high-profile alternative weeklies that have succumbed to changing media trends in recent years. The Boston Phoenix and San Francisco Bay Guardian, both venerable publications, closed. The Village Voice in New York City let go of most of its best-known writers in 2013. Indeed, layoffs have been common throughout the industry, thanks to declining circulation among the biggest alt-weeklies. The country’s top 20 alternative weeklies lost an aggregated 6 percent of their audience just within one year, 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Only three of the 20 papers increased their circulation.

Everybody knows times have been tough for local journalism, and there’s been plenty of attention anytime a mainstream daily newspaper has shut down (the Rocky Mountain News, The Cincinnati Post), ceased daily printing (New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) or scaled back staff (basically everyone). These events have tremendous implications for how government is covered. Often it means readers get less information about far-off places, whether they be foreign cities or state capitals.



JoeAlbero said...

And our local newspaper only publishes information they are sent from government officials. Unfortunately this article makes is SOUND like newspapers made local government accountable for things when in fact most local papers are liberal and only encourage that agenda.

It wasn't until SBYNews came along that our local governments have been actually challenged and questioned.

Remember Folks, those very same government officials actually SUED me trying to get my sources. They went to the OTHER MEDIA in the hope of defaming me, saying I was crazy and not trustworthy, remember.

I can confidently tell you now that each and every one of those sources have downsized in a major way while SBYNews has grown through the roof.

In fact, yesterday I showed WBOC and WMDT representatives our traffic and are you ready, BOTH people immediately said, I'm not surprised at all. So when I tell you TENS of MILLIONS, I mean it and they know it.

Watch what happens to us in 2016.

Anonymous said...

All newspapers had to do all along, is exactly what Joe has done on this blog. Tell it like it is, do not add spin to it, do not lie about it, just tell it like it is. They couldn't do it, so bye to every last one of them.

Steve said...

There are a few still alive because they do report real news honestly. The Ocean City east coast papers seem to print unbiased and up to date news and have good circulation. The Daily Times might as well die quickly, as their painfully slow death is a miserable spiraling drain on the area.

SBYNews is really the only real source if true information here on the Shore. I never need to go to 16, 47, or the "paper" for news anymore.