End of an Era?


            Throughout the current recession, many industries, from auto to real estate, have been tremendously affected by the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression.  However, with the loss of advertising revenue and the popularity of online publications, the field of mass media, especially the newspaper, could be experiencing the end of an era.

            Although history shows that online publications will likely not totally eliminate the traditional print newspaper, as the television did not totally eliminate the radio, it will likely totally change the way people receive news and information.

            The speed of receiving news on the Internet has allowed a new generation to save money by receiving the news through online publications, and in conjunction with 24-hour news channels allows people to not have to wait for the evening news to find out what is happening in their community and/or country.

            The Morning Call, an Allentown, Pa. newspaper, recently announced that it will cut 70 jobs because of declining revenue.

            “The traditional newspaper business model is broken and we fight hard every day to build the foundation for a new one,” wrote publisher Tim Kennedy.  “It is painfully ironic that our audience has grown and has never been stronger while our financial results continue to worsen.”

            As a result of the popularity of online publications and decreased advertising revenue, the Reading Eagle, which serves Berks County, Pa. and has a readership of 60,000 daily and 80,000 on Sunday, announced the termination of 52 employees, or 12 percent of the workforce.

            “We are doing what we can to operate as effectively as possible on our new press in our new format,” said William S. Flippin, publisher of the 141-year-old newspaper.  “The timing is unfortunate with the economy flat.  We needed to take this action to have a chance to survive.”

            The success of online publications has not only threatened the newspaper industry, but the radio industry as well.  Clear Channel Communications plans to cut 590 radio jobs, which will include some on-air personalities.  This will be the radio giant’s second round of layoffs, which included 1,850 radio job cuts in January, mostly in sales.

            “Like all media companies, Clear Channel Radio has to adjust its business to the realities of the current economy and advertising market,” wrote spokesperson Lisa Dollinger in an email.

            At REGAL press time, the Boston Globe was also struggling to survive in the era of online publications.  The paper is currently negotiating concessions with major unions to avoid filing a plant closing notice with the state of Massachusetts.  If the notice is filed, the New York Times Co. will be allowed to shut down the 137-year-old newspaper.

            To make matters worse, the layoffs that have occurred throughout the newspaper industry because of the phenomenon of online publications has disproportionately affected journalists of color.  Many journalists believe that diversity is now not a priority in today’s news room because mass media is able to reach communities of color without having many journalists of color.  However, maybe it is possible that the many online publications will give communities of color more voices, despite losing so many journalists.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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