Today was a tough day for newspapers.
First, we learned the New York Times would borrow $225 million against its new building. The move is to ease an oncoming credit crunch for The Times, but times have been tough for the newspaper.
Standard & Poor’s recently lowered its credit rating on the Times Company below investment grade, and Moody’s Investors Service has said it was considering a similar move. Times Company stock, which has lost more than half its value this year, closed on Friday at $7.64, down 30 cents.
But the Times isn’t in the type of trouble as Tribune Company, which filed for bankruptcy today.
Today’s news comes on the heels of news that the Miami Herald and Rocky Mountain News are both up for sale. Both could shut if a new owner isn’t found. And this is months after The Star-Ledger in Newark faced possibly closure if certain economic milestones weren’t met. The Ledger met the goals, but it also meant over 100 newsroom employees took buyouts.
The landscape of newspapers is changing quickly. It means newspapers and the news industry needs to reinvent itself. It means turning to the Web to try to, finally, figure out how to create a revenue stream.
Hopefully, it doesn’t mean more people jump on the Pasadena Now model, which is still getting media attention.
Having worked in the small, hyperlocal market more than once, I sympathize with the financial struggles. But I still disagree with turning to outsourcing hyperlocal news overseas. How can you properly cover a community that way?
According to the Los Angeles Times story, you can’t.
They might peek at Macpherson’s Pasadena Now on occasion. Staffers for the city and school district say they like the way the website faithfully publishes their press releases. “But when it takes the time and resources and energy to do something much more in-depth, they don’t have the capacity to do as much of that,” said Binti Harvey, spokeswoman for Pasadena Unified School District.
I still believe hyperlocal news on the Web is the way to go because people are looking for some sort of connection to home, their community in their crazy worlds. It’s why libraries have become increasingly popular. People want to find a sense of belonging, whether it’s in a physical place or somewhere on the Web.
It’s just a matter of finding the right formula.