Monday, March 23, 2009

Now? Already?

I am a person who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and until last August had spent the previous several years as a full-time employee of various newspapers.

So it has been more than a little shocking to receive the news today that as of this summer there will be no such thing as "The Ann Arbor News." This hyper-literate city of 110,000 people will have no dedicated print newspaper as of July. This July.

What?

Sure, there's already an online newspaper that's doing much of the municipal grunt work. Sure, the future online-first incarnation of what's now the A2 News will run a print edition a couple times a week. And sure, on the national level, the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer and bunches more major metropolitan newspapers are already gone--it's frankly stunning the Detroit News is still standing.

But but but: readers in Denver still have the Denver Post, Seattle readers the Seattle News, and when the Detroit News finally kicks the bucket the Free Press will still be there. Ann Arbor will have nothing, or at least nothing in the way of what we think of as a "newspaper" for a city of its size. It's over.

I wouldn't say I wouldn't have predicted something like this eventually ... I mean, c'mon, it's newspapers. And if you'd asked me which newspapers would going to go down first, it would be the ones in the nation's most economically depressed state. But already? It's stunning, and sad, and more than a little scary for someone who believes it's important for writers to get paid to write. I would like very much, please, if the current generation of high schoolers who like writing but aren't the next Hemingway have another option besides churning out toaster oven operations manuals. (Or teaching, for those of us like yours truly who gave it a shot but just aren't that responsible, thanks.)

There's a blog post here that sums up why this has hit so close to home:
One thing you hear all the time is that the mainstream media does a terrible job in this country, and I feel that way quite often. But there are so many passionate people in media too, people who give their hearts to the job, people who want only to break news, and tell stories, and shine a light on injustice, and make people laugh, and document the times we live in.
So apologies for the bout of navel-gazing, but the idea of these passionate people--and I've met many of them myself--doing something besides telling stories for a living, and the countless, countless stories that ought to be told going untold has me a bit shaken. It's starting here in Ann Arbor, but it feels like it's only going to get worse.

3 comments:

jrsuicide said...

...and yet Athens still must endure the Banner Herald. The news paper industry is deader than my music career.

John said...

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/19/newspaper.decline.layoff/index.html

SEC Homer said...

Newspapers, auto industry, what's next? The internet has changed journalism as we've known it just as its changed almost everything else in our lives. Espn and a few other internet outlets charge minor fees for certain exclusive news. Maybe this will be the future of online news: Become a member of CNN.com for only 9.95$ a month.