Monday, December 15, 2008

Troubled News

There's been a lot of talk about the troubles at large newspapers and magazines, but the NYTimes has a story today about the impending death of a little newspaper in Bristol, Connecticut.

The newspaper, which has been publishing since 1871, will either be sold by mid-January or will close:

"Yes, this is another story about a newspaper in jeopardy, one that may well prompt dismissive responses about Paleolithic business models and pointless mourning over throwaway sheets of paper and ink. In other words: Get over it, hack, your day is done."

It is, at least, a poetic pre-obituary, asking the reader to pause and "appreciate what a small, imperfect daily newspaper means to this small, imperfect city":

"Let us watch, too, as Greg Fradette ... feeds two quarters into a machine and returns with a copy of The Press. In this city where, he says, 'springs are big,' the newspaper matters because it contains the intense coverage of sports at the high school and City Hall level; the listings of births, deaths and potluck suppers. 'The information you take for granted,' Mr. Fradette says."

Obviously, stories like this interest me on a personal level. Here I am, working for a weekly newspaper, writing on the internet for that same organization. (Btw, Chris Davis recently wrote about John Malmo's take on the future of newspapers for

But I also once interned at a teeny-tiny afternoon daily (in a teeny-tiny town, appropriately) and it really was an integral part of the town. Sure, everyone got the larger daily from the neighboring "metropolis" for regional news, but you had to get the Reporter — good-naturedly called the Repeater — for the police blotter, the news from city hall, and just generally to know what your neighbors were up to.

(And who in a small town doesn't want to know what their neighbors are up to?)

At The Bristol Press, they wonder about the stories that will go untold should they close.

"For now, a heavy-hearted editor will continue to be who he is, and do what he does. And a small band of reporters, working for a small, imperfect newspaper, will record for posterity the challenges facing a wounded soldier; the fire that roared through an animal shelter and the number of cats (30) and dogs (9) saved; the death of an 88-year-old woman named Henrietta; and the birth of a girl named Ava Marie."

1 comment:

Joe said...

It'll be a sad day for Bristol if the paper can't survive. I realize many people have become disenchanted with newspapers in recent years -- and let's face it, there is a lot of junk out there -- but it's a blow to democracy and to the community when one of these institutions fails. Love them or hate them, but local newspapers provide more information than any blog, TV news program or Web-based publication. Full disclosure: I was a reporter for 14 years and spent part of that time working for the Bristol Press.