Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

-Megan Patrick-Vaughn can be reached at mpatrick@vbjusa.com

It is an odd feeling when newspapers, which are full of reporters trained to observe and present unbiased reports about other fields and other businesses, have to start reporting on themselves. But because of the state of the newspaper industry, there has been an awful lot of that recently.

A headline about the industry today caught my eye: “Report: Times Co. will take bids to sell Globe.
Yeesh. It’s the Boston flippin’ Globe we’re talking about here – who would have thought we’d be reading reports about the famed newspaper losing $50 million in operating losses in 2008 and a projected $85 million loss this year?

And will anybody step up to buy the Globe? We all saw how quickly the now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer was snapped up when it was for sale. It’s a shame to lose news sources of that caliber.

But back to reporting on ourselves. When I first came to the Vancouver Business Journal three years ago, when I was in public, the question I got all the time was, “What is new on in the business community?” Now, it’s inevitably, “How are you guys doing?” For the record, the answer is that we’re getting by but this is a hard time. I’m sure there are a few of you out there who can relate to this.

The inevitable follow-up question is what to do about newspaper relevancy. What I’ve forecasted for a while and am seeing to some extent is that daily papers – which have for so long been the go-to source for news about everything, everywhere – have been hard hit by online news, which is available in real time, en masse. But smaller community and niche publications are relatively solvent right now because they’re delivering what people want and can’t always get elsewhere – solid news about their community and strictly what they’re interested in.

There are, of course, many other facets to the situation, but in my opinion it comes down to giving people what they want. But that also means we need to hear from you – what do you want to see in your newspaper? What format to do you want it in? What can we do better or different?

Share your comments on the blog.

1 comments:

Michael said...

hi Megan,

Just to add to your comments, John McDonagh, pulisher of the Vancover Journal give some interesting and related insights about the paper in a podcast interview I did with him a few months ago.

You can listen to it at http://accel.podbean.com/2009/02/09/conversation-with-the-vancouver-business-journal/

Michael Thompson
Market Accelerators, LLC