Is daily print journalism going away?
Sure seems like it. The newspapers and journalism blogs are full of obits for daily papers. Denver, Seattle, and (soon) Philly all have lost major papers, leaving them as one-paper towns. The San Francisco Chronicle is on the brink, and the Miami Herald is not far behind. Yesterday, the McClatchy-owned Raleigh News & Observer cut 11% of its staff. Today, the Observer (and congrats to the O on its continuing parade of awards for the Cruelest Cuts series) combined its business section into the A section. Those two papers are combining features departments. And more Observer layoffs are an unfortunate inevitability at this point--we're hearing as many as thirty from the newsroom alone.
It's not hard to imagine that neither Charlotte nor Raleigh will be able to claim a daily paper by the end of the year. Maybe three days a week, maybe four. Perhaps some sort of combined Carolinas paper (which no one would read). That's a stunningly quick fall. Plenty of pundits are opining on this subject, and there's no need for us to add to the fray. Suffice to say these are not positive developments in the evolution of a democracy.
Of course, there's a chance that newspapers' struggles are tied as much to the economy as to the advent of alternative advertising venues, and that some papers will mount comebacks along with the economy. If that turns out to be the case, then Charlotte and Raleigh stand a better chance. For that to happen, it'll take more than a skeleton staff at those papers, and management will have to continue to innovate. Let's hope.