Sunday, July 20, 2008

The end is not the future

OK, here is another rant about the state of the newspaper industry, specifically the closing of the local Argus Champion.
Mike Pride, who retired from the Concord Monitor recently, has a column this morning about the presumptive end of the newspaper he has enjoyed during his summers in Goshen: ["In Sunapee region, a voice is silenced"].
It is interesting to note that the story of the newspaper closing made news wires all over New England. Pride offers us his thoughts which, it is safe to assume, are probably similar to those of many readers in the area. He also takes a little bit of a cheap shot at the owners that bought the newspaper from the original owner and expanded the coverage, probably to make the newspaper more profitable. Although, he notes that the expanded newspaper did a good job of covering the communities.
As bad as things might be, there are always opportunities for those willing to take some risks. There is an ad running on WBZ and it states that most rich people make their fortunes during a down economy. While the ad sounds like a snake oil salesman ad, there is validity to the theory. Those people who have the ability right now to buy depressed properties and then hold onto them for a bit before the economy goes back up, are going to be able to make money on things they buy on the cheap now. That is how the cyclical markets work. And believe me, the economy will probably come back up, either of its own volition or subsidized by the government. It has to, one way or another. So, there is reason to believe that things will get better and that some people who have the ability, should take risks now while they can. Admit it, how worse can it get, right?
What is puzzling to me though is the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in reaction to these newspaper closings, specifically this newspaper. For example, if Pride or anyone else thinks this is such a bad thing, why not try to buy the Argus Champion and keep it alive? Sure, it's hard work. But those of us who work at non-owner-operator newspapers are doing that right now. Or, if you don't want to buy it to save it, why not prepare a new newspaper to serve the needs of those readers? Surely there is opportunity there. There isn't a mention of that in Pride's column at all. If it is so important, why not urge someone to try and save it?
Let me go one step further: Those people with connections to the industry, who know the business, would seem to have a responsibility to keep institutions like this newspaper alive. Who better than Pride to do that?
Interestingly, he doesn't offer any solutions at all. He doesn't offer any ideas, like say, having each town set up a Web site where people could post their interesting information to the communities as a solution [essentially, most news from a newspaper comes from actual people]. Surely someone with decades of experience in the business has a few ideas on how to preserve it. Or, does he just care about the romanticism of it all, like so many other newspaper people? I don't know and while I'm asking questions, I'm not trying to beat Pride up here. He owes no one anything. He spent decades as an editor and is now retired. He wants to enjoy some downtime, reconnecting with his family, traveling, etc. It is his life.
But, at the same time, good men and women have to stand up and do what is right and just in this world. Allowing 185-year-old newspapers to just die is a travesty, especially when there might be opportunity in saving it.

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