The walking deadWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cincinnati Post and Kentucky Post newspapers closed in December 2007 after a 126-year run.
The Rocky Mountain News closed in February after 150 years in business. Newspapers in Seattle, Tuscon, Ariz., and as close to home as Detroit and Ann Arbor are closing, cutting back production days and reducing services.
It is a dire time of transition for the newspaper industry, and there will be many more stories of cutbacks and closings as the months unfold. Daily paid newspapers are for the most part dead men walking, shambling relics of past glories with no sustainable business model.
One of the reasons I started Toledo Free Press in 2004 was that I saw the signs of doom for the paid daily newspaper many years ago, and I believe that the community needs a viable long-term alternative, a source for information that drills beyond the fires and car crashes and looks at our neighbors.
I believed then, and I believe now, that a free, once-or-twice-a-week publication that focuses on strictly local news is the answer.
The issues that are killing paid daily newspapers — legacy contract costs, investments in depreciating presses, reliance on content that has been in the marketplace for 24 hours — do not plague most free weekly newspapers.
These are tight times, but free weekly newspapers are already on the other side of the collapse, integrating online resources and delivering local content that builds the community, not tears it down.
As the paid daily newspaper goes the way of outdoor telephone booths, vinyl records and crop-dusting planes, free weekly publications are standing firm and preparing to be part of the next step in the evolution of the information revolution.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.