Newspapers on the radio

It’s a good question – on the lips of many media observers. What would the media landscape be like in your city without a major newspaper serving the citizens?

Ironically, National Public Radio was among the first to explore this issue in two pieces filed for the public radio network.

NPR Reporter David Folkenflik explored the sad state of the big city daily newspapers, where news organizations are cutting budgets, downsizing, outsourcing and retrenching from their coverage areas. Many papers have stopped staffing legislative bureaus, depending now on reports from news organizations like Associated Press. Click here to visit the story.

In the second piece, Folkenflik examines what some have proposed for “newspapers – the next generation,” which is based on a non-profit model. In fact, some news organizations – like the Associated Press and NPR itself – are already non-profits, depending on their member partners to help provide content as well as undwriting the distribution of this content. Click here to visit that story.

Jim Lehrer, the host of a PBS’ daily News Hour, said today in an NPR interview with Diane Rehm, that some have even suggested eliminating the advertising component of the daily paper, suggesting that the paper be reduced to smaller physical size and filled with nothing but news. No ads. Nothing but news. In this model, the newspaper would cost more, but would be smaller, easier to carry and use, and without the advertising clutter that caused its size (and inconvenience) to swell. A link to Rehm’s daily talk show is HERE.

As a sidebar, it is worth a quick note that NPR’s ratings showed substantial growth during last year’s run to the presidency. As one NPS commentator put it, “our listeners tend to be sticky,” in other words once they tune in they tend to stick around. Whether or not this growth in listenership will translate into added revenue for the radio operation, which depends largely on gifts from tis listeners, remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

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