I love newspapers. I always have and I always will.
When I was five or six years old, I learned to read by checking the National League East standings everyday…I couldn’t wait for the Buffalo Evening News to see if my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates had won the day before.
On long car rides to my grandparents’ house, my sister and I would bring big sheets of paper and make our own pretend newspaper. Ultimately, childhood dreams turned to reality as I helped pay my way through college covering sports for the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun. My first post-college job was covering high school sports for Observer & Eccentric Newspapers. And, of course, I still love reading the paper…Sunday just isn’t Sunday without a pot of coffee and some quality time with the Free Press.
Naturally, all the recent talk about newspaper shut downs such as this column from Leonard Pitts (http://tinyurl.com/cl2ptt) or this story about Ann Arbor News (http://tinyurl.com/dj5opw) breaks my heart. My old friend the newspaper seems to be on its last legs.
One key fact haunts me, though…I first read Pitts’ column online. Two or three friends posted the story on Facebook. I learned about the Ann Arbor News shut down from a Twitter feed. Like it or not, my media habits, and the media habits of just about everyone else, have changed dramatically.
The news business has to evolve to keep pace. But, this doesn’t have to mean the end of good journalism. Bloomberg News, for example, provides fast, accurate business reporting directly to desk tops and employs some terrific professionals. Matt Roush provides prolific coverage of emerging technology sectors in his daily Great Lakes IT Report. Hampton Publishing and WWJ-AM have had great success covering the auto industry via its email publication AutoBeat Daily.
These are great examples of entrepreneurs filling a need and providing a valuable service to loyal readers. Though the transition will be painful, professional journalists will still find a way to inform, educate and entertain. The format will change, but hopefully, not the role in society. The important thing for all of us is the information, not the delivery mechanism. While physical newspapers might eventually go away, I’m confident great journalism will still flourish.
Now, I need to click on ESPN.com to see how the Tigers did in Spring Training today.