Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hyperlocal news doesn't always work ...

At least in print, apparently, around Akron-Canton in Ohio where the Suburbanite is closing after 38 years. The paper is co-owned by Copley with the Canton Repository where David Greenfield is publisher.

Here's how John Russell of the Akron Beacon Journal described the paper:

The tabloid-sized paper distributed 26,000 copies every Monday for readers in Green, Coventry, Lakemore, New Franklin and Springfield. It was filled with community news, including student awards, local government meetings, a police blotter, high school sports and event calendars.

Readers often took a copy of the Suburbanite with them when they took a vacation overseas, then had themselves photographed reading it in exotic places. The paper often printed those photos, Greenfield said.

``The newspaper will be missed in the community,'' he said. ``It's a sad day.''

Local schools and government offices used the paper to inform citizens about upcoming levies, community programs, road repairs and other events.

One wonders if this would be an opportunity for a low-overhead citizen-journalism effort on the Web. Was the Suburbanite's demise the costs of distributing a "hard copy" product to such a wide area? Or is it evidence of a sociological and demographic shift, and in what way: A shift to different ways of receiving the same information or a shift away from such information -- which seems unlikely given what we are seeing and hearing elsewhere. The story does not get into that.

Copley says the paper, which has not made a profit in several years -- and which also happens to have yet negotiated a contract with the newly unionized staff, though Greenfield says that had nothing to do with it -- was free, though on the cover it said 25 cents.


At 5/12/05, 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's time that local communities start using web media to inform people about events, road construction, school news etc. I have used one in particular in my town
I find it easier to post my own announcements rather than to send in an article that may never get printed because of space constraints.


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