The Contra Costa Times, The San Jose Mercury News, and The Oakland Tribune are going out of business. (external link) They are victims of consolidation, the three publications being folded into smaller newspapers and digital outlets with different names.
This is all part of a larger trend, with local papers steadily disappearing. (internal link) While I don’t bemoan a free market, readers can choose what they will, there is, however, a point at which news becomes unavailable or inaccurate.
For many of my magazine articles I have spent countless hours poring over microfilm and microfiche in the basements of distant libraries. It’s all a part of good journalism in that most stories cannot be fact checked or researched exclusively on the web. Now, with newsrooms reduced, staffs cut, who is going to pay for original research and writing? Who’s going to be down in that basement?
News reporting and magazine articles can’t be reduced to a Twitter feed or a quick look at Wikipedia. If the truth means anything, if getting the story right is important, if history is to be made accurate and solid, someone will have to pay someone to write that story.
I don’t know about the economics. But I do know that laying off staff and shutting down newspapers will not help reporting, it will only make things worse. As for me, for my next article, I’m headed back to the basement.