Columnist Michelle Jacklin Offered Severance in Latest Round
CT News Junkie has been following the latest round of "belt-tightening" over at the Hartford Courant, which apparently is now going to include columnist Michelle Jacklin.
The details are well-covered on that always excellent site, so I'll let you read about them there. It's worth a look.
The Courant has been losing local coverage for years, which is where I imagine these cuts will be felt the most. There were a lot of complaints about coverage of local races leading up to the elections, and their print edition had very little that was useful in the way of results.
Who will fill the local news void? Smaller papers like the Journal-Inquirer have already stepped in, and I tend to prefer them over the Courant for coverage of my own town. However, people do seem to be turning to online sources more and more for local news, which seems to be counterintuitive on the face of it. After all, the web is "world wide" and accessible from anywhere. Isn't it overkill?
Not at all. Websites are cheaper to create and maintain (my total costs for this site? $25/year) than a run of 5,000-10,000 copies of a print newspaper each week, and they have the advantage of being accessible from anywhere by anyone at any time.
Local news sites (Westport Now and the New Haven Independent are good examples) can exist in a variety of formats and have many different types of features. They can also be interactive, meaning enabled comments, forums, etc. Many have taken blog formats and have specific points of view, like Willington Issues and the newly created Stokes Report.
In short, people are stepping up to fill the need they see.
So perhaps the future of local news is on the web instead of in print, although it may be more accurate to say that online sources will not replace but supplement and coexist with print sources. This makes the decision of Tribune (the Courant's parent company) to gut the paper's staff, thereby reducing already lousy local coverage to next to nothing, highly questionable. This ground, once lost, may be impossible to recover.