I don't think that's news to anyone. If you live in a big city, like Dallas or Denver, you've watched in the last couple decades as the number of major city newspapers was cut in half. Some places, the newspapers have gone from 50 pages to 32.
|Silverton, CO ... they probably had a lot of newspapers, too.|
The obvious and easy answer is the internet. This is true, but it's only part of the problem, in part because finding local news is not always easy on-line. You can find out what mud a Kardashian is currently rolling in with two flicks of the thumb on your smart phone, but finding out whether the local city council voted to outlaw gypsies last night is going to take some digging. The newspaper is still the best place to find out the details of the local haps, but most people in our world are content with either a] not really caring about the local haps (most popular answer) or 2] (less popular but still more popular than the newspaper) finding out about the local affairs by having the TV news on while they order take-out.
It didn't used to be this way. I remember reading about the little gold-mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado--it's little now, anyway. Back when it was a booming mining town of 10,000 residents, it had ten different newspapers! The New York Times and the New York Post still wage something of a war, but the only people who care about it are the employees of the New York Times and, occasionally, the New York Post.
Now, instead of getting their misinformation from the NYT, most people would prefer to get their information from whatever squirrel writes the news for the internet or, barring that, just skip the news entirely and play Pokémon Go! (is that still a thing?) or watch reruns of "Game of
Is there a way to get back to those old days, when newspapers mattered? Short of the kind of disaster I champion in my novel series "The Last Valley" (buy it in paperback or for Kindle or Nook by clicking here), I don't think so. For one thing, go to a museum (check your GPS to find the one nearest you) and check out old newspapers. You know what they had in them?
Back in the day when Cripple Creek could support ten newspapers, all ten of them were either one broad sheet of paper, or maybe one broader sheet of paper folded once to make a four-page newspaper. Almost no pictures (sometimes none at all), very little advertising, just news. Column after column of tightly written, sometimes sensational, news and commentary. They still had the baseball scores and recipes, but what they didn't have was three pages taken up completely with an advertisement for a dress shop. Once they started running pictures, the pictures were part of the story, not just a hook that replaces the story.
I don't think our world could go back to that. We don't have the desire or aptitude to read the kind of long articles they wrote back then (with long paragraphs and long sentences to boot). We have short attention spans (most people bailed on this blog long ago) and want quotes that could appear in Reader's Digest because they're both pithy and short (as opposed to succinct, which is really different entirely).
Addendum: I thought about adding something along the lines of how most newspapers (especially those with "Globe-News" or "Avalanche-Journal" in their title), if you submit something to them like, oh, I don't know, a comic strip, won't even bother to write back. No, "Thanks but no thanks", even. I realize they're busy drowning in debt, but maybe if they had a little more courtesy toward their public it would help their relationship to the public?