Last night I delievered a talk about news literacy to the Brockport Rotary Club. The talk soon became a discussion on the current state of journalism.
What struck me most about the concerns the members shared with me was this: They want real community news. The good and the bad. And they don’t think they are getting it.
Directly related to that, they also want watchdog reporting. What are they getting? Octomom.
While we read headlines saying newspapers are dying or already dead, these residents subscribe to newspapers — for now — but say they are getting too thin and don’t have enough local content. The online versions don’t provide them with much more than the print.
Why do I bring this up? Because as every day we hear about more and more newspapers cutting staffs or mandating furloughs, newspapers are doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what they should be doing.
How on earth can newspapers provide more local content with fewer people? In the short term newspapers may be cutting costs, but in the long term they are killing the industry.
I try not to be a pessimist, but some days it is hard to see the silver lining in all this.
I read today about a conference aimed at “sustaining journalism.” A Critical Convening meets later this month is Washington. I only hope that conferences like this can generate concrete ideas — and not just talk — that can help save newspapers.