I've been thinking a lot lately about why we still need newspapers. One obvious reason: Local reporting.
Local news - the police beat, city council and school board, the meat-and-potatoes stuff of journalism - isn't terribly glamorous. As such, it's often left out of the discussion when the digital media pundits start pontificating about journalism's brave new world.
But the vast majority of the 1,400 or so newspapers in this country exist for one reason - to chronicle the events of small and medium-sized towns and cities. If they disappear, what they do won't be replaced by major league papers like The New York Times or glitzy websites like the Huffington Post.
Another thing we lose if papers die - coverage of average folks, by average folks.
Here's what I mean: TV journalists are increasingly paid salaries that are far beyond what the average American earns, both at the networks and their larger affiliate stations. Six- and even seven-figure salaries aren't unheard of.
So what does a TV reporter making a half-mil a year have in common with the laid-off factory worker who's scraping by? Probably not much.
Newspaper reporters, on the other hand, don't make fat salaries. Indeed, a local scribe probably makes about the same as the local cop or schoolteacher. So it's not unreasonable to surmise that the print reporter will know where the working Joe and Jane are coming from when they talk about struggling to pay the bills and feed the kids.
Let me hear your ideas as to why newspapers still are - or aren't - needed.
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