Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Detroit News on endangered list

Posted on Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 3:15 PM

The Detroit News has showed up on a Top 10 list no one in my business can feel good about: newspapers most likely to fold or, at very least, shift to digital publication only.

Posted on Time magazine’s website, the article is by Douglas A. McIntyre. He’s a partner in 24/7 Wall St, a company that provides financial news and analysis over the Internet.

As McIntyre points out, an industry that’s been in overall decline for a long time now took a particularly bitter hit recently when Colorado’s venerable Rocky Mountain News marked its last deadline after nearly 150 years in business. And The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has roots stretching back to the 1860s, is set to either switch to Web-only publication or disappear completely. That decision could come at any time.

Now, With the Free Press and News set to stop home deliver four days a week in an experiment that will attempt to shift readers to less-costly online editions, industry experts are keeping a close eye on Detroit.

McIntyre is less than optimistic that the experiment will work, at least for the News. He puts it at No. 4 on his list of endangered American papers.

“It is unlikely that it can merge with the larger Detroit Free Press, which is owned by Gannett,” McIntyre writes. “It is hard to see what would be in it for Gannett. And with the fortunes of Detroit getting worse each day, cutting back the number of days the paper is delivered would not save enough money to keep the paper open.”

You might think I’d be cheered by the prospect of a right-wing rag like News going under, but that’s not the case. Even though the chest-thumping conservatives over there — throwbacks like Nolan Finley and his fellow travelers — usually have me clawing for my blood-pressure meds, I agree with them that competition — especially in the news business — is not just a good thing, but vital. Every time a voice is lost, and every time the watchdog media loses another eye, we all suffer.

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