I read today about another newspaper closing.
This one wasn't some rinky-dink paper, but a paper that had a circulation of 100,000 just ten years ago. And it isn't a story of some bold, new competition punching them dead in the face and knocking 'em out.
No, this was a 30-year-old paper that died, and three other newspapers in the region died in the past year as well. I think this is obvious, but if it's not, let me lay this out for you.
If you believe, as I do, that newspapers are important, that they connect a local community, and that they keep the local elected body in check, then you should subscribe to one. Better yet, subscribe to two of them.
The list of competitors is huge, and it's not just local media. It's TV, which now boasts hundreds of channels for advertisers, instead of just a few super-high priced ones out of their price range. It's thousands of Internet sites. It's billboards. It's phones, Ipads, laptops, direct mail, local recycling programs, even receipts from the grocery store.
Advertising alone isn't enough for newspapers anymore. That's a fact. Indeed, circulation revenue surpassed advertising revenue for The New York Times for the first time in decades recently, after the Times started jacking up its single copy price. And if advertising isn't enough in New York and with a national audience, then it's safe to say it's not enough in Oak Ridge either. That's why we're moving toward a paid newspaper.
So, if you appreciate us, show some love. And if you appreciate our competition, do likewise with them. The company that owns them, Gatehouse Media, has more than $1 billion in debt, and has shut down numerous publications, as well.
Onward and upward,
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Stan Mitchell is Editor and Publisher of The Oak Ridge Observer. He started the paper in 2004 with a $20,000 loan and writes generally on his blog about business practices, politics and local matters.