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Obit: Weeks Shy of 150th Birthday, Newspaper Dies

March 2nd, 2009

DENVER – Early Friday morning, February 27th, readers and writers mourned the loss of the Rocky Mountain News. Shockwaves were felt around the globe as E.W. Scripps Co. put the nearly 150-year-old newspaper to bed. For once, the newspaper became news.

The Rocky Mountain News isn’t the first to die. (Check out a farewell video tribute here). And it won’t be the last. Hearst Corp. has threatened to close the San Francisco Chronicle if it can’t sell or sufficiently cut costs; same story for another Hearst paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In Chicago, Minneapolis and here in Philadelphia, the papers have filed for bankruptcy protection. The Christian Science Monitor in April will become a web-only news source. Even USA Today, the paper of hotels worldwide, has forced staff to take a week-long vacation to save money.

So, what does this mean for you? If you make your living by writing copy at a newspaper, start hunting. If not, here’s some advice to use this situation to your organization’s advantage:

  1. Join the conversation. Publications are thirsty for free, credible content. Your organization’s leaders are valuable and have unique information. Share it.
  2. Speak many languages. Too often, organizations join only one conversation. Join many. Blogs, trade pubs, journals, online-only publications, hyper-local weekly newspapers, community forums, the list goes on…
  3. Write and write again. From bylined articles to commentary pieces to weekly columns, editors are looking for help. Their staff has been slashed and they need copy. Fill that void.
  4. Have something to say. You are what you write. Produce content that builds and supports your brand.
For sure, the business model of major daily newspapers is broken. But, the need to receive news—pop culture, business or local—hasn’t changed. Go ahead, join the conversation.
Posted Under: Branding, Media & Journalism
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