This morning during a commercial break my co-anchor Chris Schauble mentioned something he heard about 10 newspapers that are about to fold up shop. "Like, as in go under," I asked, "...or go to online only?"
"Good question," he said, adding that he'd heard a blurb on the radio about it and hadn't gotten the full story. That kind of stuff is on his radar, though, since the Rocky Mountain News, from his home state of Colorado, folded last month.
So I went online for the answer, and did my part to contribute to the problem print editions are facing these days.
"24/7 Wall St. has created a list of the 10 major daily papers that are most likely to fold or shutter their print operations and only publish online. The properties were chosen on the basis of the financial strength of their parent companies, the amount of direct competition they face in their markets and industry information on how much money they are losing. Based on this analysis, it's possible that 8 of the nation's 50 largest daily newspapers could cease publication in the next 18 months."
The top ten papers most likely to stop the presses might surprise you. And Chris put it well; it's not necessarily just a financial sign of the times. The changing technology is just making it so easy the keep up with the news as it's happening. "It's mostly about the immediacy," he says, adding later, "...you know, if they could just deliver a paper say, every ten minutes, THAT'd be good!"
My favorite Web editor, Jon Lloyd, actually made the switch from newspaper reporting to the Web about 10 years ago.
"Ham, tomato and mushroom," he said, thinking I was taking his breakfast omelette order during a commissary run.
He got back on track: "Our newspaper didn't even have a website when I left. Now, that's its driving platform. The Web was more of a billboard on which other primary platforms -- TV, newspaper, radio -- could place their content. That changed dramatically. We had one deadline at the end of the day so the paper could go to print. Online, everything we do is immediate -- deadlines pop up as information becomes available that we can push through to visitors."
Bored with Jon's ramblings, I went back to my computer screen to read my email, where my Yahoo homepage directed me to a story about Tom Brokaw hitting the road to do a new series of reports on the USA Network. This story in the New York Post says he'll be travelling along Highway 50, talking to people about the economic crisis and the Obama presidency:
"Political reporters often refer to the highway that stretches from Maryland to California as the spine of the country because of the political and ethnic diversity represented along its route, the former NBC "Nightly News" anchor said.
"I have felt for a long time that we do an inadequate job at covering Washington from the outside looking back, rather than Washington looking toward the rest of the country," Brokaw said. "If there is anything from the early stages of the Obama campaign that is, if you will, a strong theme, is that they wanted to knit the country together again. So we're going to go out and take a look at how they're doing."
This is a very old picture of Brokaw which illustrates just how long the former Nightly News anchor has been at it. Look at that antique phone he has in his hand, with the big squiggly cord that goes into that box!! AND LOOK! He's reading a newspaper -- an old timey newsprint one!
Check out the full AP story on Brokaw's latest project here.
Soon after Brokaw stepped down from Nightly News, he was telling reporters he "flunked" retirement, and it seems he's been busier than ever. But really, did we expect anything less from an icon like Brokaw? A quick search on "Brokaw retirement" brought up a number of parodies ... like this one:
I know, I can't picture it either. Brokaw says he's been cycling around South Africa, and on skiing, hunting, and fishing trips too. The perfect picture of retirement.