This blog – along with most of my other leisure internet activities – have taken a back seat recently, because I’ve been working on a new project. I’m helping our local newspaper (The Grafton News) build a website. This is a difficult time for printed newspapers. The extinction of newspapers across the US has been in the news quite a bit lately. The younger generation is not that newspaper-oriented; the Internet tends to be their major news source. This, along with the recession has decreased newspaper circulation and so advertising (revenue) has declined. Also, sites like Craig’s List have taken much of the classified ad revenue away from printed papers. Why pay for news or classifieds when you can get it online for free?
That said, small town newspapers seem to be doing much better than big city papers. This is certainly true for the Grafton News. I think there are a number of reasons for this. Small towns focus on local news, which doesn’t typically have to compete with the internet. Small town populations tend to be older and less addicted to the internet than large metropolitan areas. Small town papers cost less and their advertising is more affordable. They also have less over-head than the bigger papers.
Ergonomics is another advantage for the printed news. When I read a paper, I want to sit back, put my feet up and relax. I don’t want to be sitting in front of a computer. And who wants to drag their laptop into the bathroom? E-books like the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle might solve these problems eventually and of course, that would be good news for the environment. But for now, I think the printed newspapers still has plenty of life left, especially in the small towns.
But even small town newspapers can not afford to ignore the internet. These days, every business needs a web site. But how much content do you put on-line without competing with yourself? This is the current dilemma for many newspapers. For now, thegraftonnews.com is an extension of the printed paper, which can evolve over time. Some of the things you will currently find online include feature articles and time-sensitive information. We also have a Grafton News blog and lots of photos from the Grafton News archives, as well as color photos from the printed paper and many extra photos that did not appear in print. We are building an online community forum and are also taking advantage of the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace. We have photos on Flickr and videos on Youtube and of course we are active on Twitter.
Our local paper is currently playing a balancing act between creating an on-line presents and keeping the printed paper alive. The newspaper is over 50 years old, and the original owner is still at the helm. So the paper has a loyal following. The content of the paper is community driven and relies on an active community to tell their stories and accomplishments. This is similar to public access TV, the content comes from the local residents, so the people have control and “ownership” of the content. The printed newspaper has always been a vital and cherished part of our community and I’m so happy to be a part of the Grafton News.
So, this is what has been keeping me busy lately. Stop by thegraftonnews.com and let me know what you think.