It can be big news when a newspaper produces news about itself. That was the case yesterday when The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, announced that, starting in January, it will be publishing only three days a week and is placing its bets on its digital version. The stunning announcement from the Newhouse-owned paper reflected the digital factor in journalism. "The realities of how people demand their news be delivered and the way advertisers want their messages delivered can't be ignored," the paper said. "The move to form the (two) new companies comes as the digital audience continues to grow and the region becomes increasingly more wired."
The paper's announcement said there are no plans to charge to access its website, PennLive.com. The Patriot-News' circulation today is 118,000 compared to 176,000 in 1992, with the loss of print readers accelerating. "All the while," the announcement continued, "PennLive.com has seen its audience numbers soar as more and more readers turned online for their news and information. In the past year, PennLive.com has seen an 80 percent growth in unique visitors, making it the 12th-most-popuar website in the nation measured by market penetration."
The Patriot-News said similar changes are occurring in other newspaper markets across the country. Few of The Patriot's reporters yesterday were willing to comment on the paper's announcement. But one of them, John Luciew, a 20-year veteran, said "A lot of us in this business are known to say that we love newspapers. And while affection for that paper-and-ink artifact will endure among many of us, all the things newspaper journalists do best can have even more meaning, immediacy and reach in a digital future that's already arrived. I guess that's a long way of saying I'm hopeful, but nostalgic."
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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