Monday, March 23, 2009

Newspaper Evolution

An important blog post worth reading today from my journalism mentor, Jane Briggs-Bunting who heads the Michigan State University J-School. It's about the current state of our newspaper industry, and the heart of what we do. She writes on a day when the Ann Arbor News announces that after 174 years, it's closing in July and will go online. Here's the newspaper report being updated throughout the day. This news follows the one early this year from the Detroit major metro dailies, saying they'll be cutting home delivery to a few days a week and offering much of their content online. They set the precedent - it officially starts Monday. More newspapers will likely follow suit, amid the grim economic news and continued cuts that we'll also likely see throughout the country. With that, the Indy Star reports today about its planned reductions for the 2nd Quarter.... All of that uncertaintly led to the recent news from a longtime colleague - who'd been in the newspaper reporting business for 19 years - that he was leaving to enter the PR industry. Some of us refer to that as "the dark side," whether that's in jest or in all serious is debatable and depends on the person at issue. In this particular friend's case, he has been someone I've looked up to since meeting, learning from, and working beside briefly about five years ago. He's one of the most respected journalists you could meet, and it's not a stretch to say everyone would agree, including those he has covered through the years. His always-precise and aggressive watchdog questioning. But, even the best can be eaten at by all that's happening in our industry and we're seeing many leave. What's even more tragic, though, is when the young journos leave or even don't consider newspapering.

All this makes Jane's post even more relevant and important: this isn't a death of an industry, only the evolution. Journalism won't die, because we have to rely on it. The mission remains the same and it's our duty as a country, a people, and an industry to make sure it stays intact as strong as ever.