by Roger Pynn
I dreaded the walk like a man headed to his own execution. The sun wasn’t up. Night birds were still singing. I bent down knowing today was the day I had long dreaded … the day the newspaper died.
If you’ve been following the saga of the daily newspaper and debates of whether there will be newspapers as we’ve known them in the future, the answer lay on my driveway this morning as if Tribune Media had started waving a white flag and was giving up the ghost.
Our once robust newspaper – where I worked as a young buck reporter and editor, and where my brother retired as public editor – was reduced to a shadow of its former self. Stripped nearly bare of national and international news, I saw the villain of this sad drama … up there in the upper left hand corner: “*Free app! Available for download on your iPad, iPhone or Android.”
“In an effort to reduce expenses, we’re consolidating the Main News and Local & Business sections into one section dominated by local news,” said the announcement explaining the thinner-than-thin broadsheet. And what dominated the front page above the fold: a color photo of Casey Anthony … certainly something readers needed to make important decisions during their day … a story that the mother you love to hate may be dragged back to town by a headline hunting judge to serve out a probation no one understood.
Fortunes have been lost as the story of the American newspaper has unfolded, talented journalists have lost their jobs or been smart enough to hitch their wagons to other stars and our society has lost the most powerful institution for the protection of a democratic society.
Newsroom sources say 70 percent of the paper’s revenue comes from its print editions. Why, then, is so much money, effort and print real estate devoted to driving you to use a product no one pays for and fails still to produce revenue commensurate with cost?