According to OwnLocal.com, there has been a rash of local newspapers that have been consolidated under one company for the past couple of years. The Tribune Publishing Company recently purchased 38 daily and weekly local papers to add to its growing roster, while American Consolidated Media sold off the last of its local papers last year. Local newspapers are consolidating, and industry observers are starting to wonder if that is a good or bad thing.
A Good Thing – Many Locals Have A Chance At Survival
The Telegraph tells a story about several local UK papers that have been consolidated in the hopes of becoming profitable again. The idea of getting the digital generations to buy a local newspaper is not happening, but many local papers are finding that combining resources allows them to cut costs and have a chance at being profitable.
A Bad Thing – Fewer People Control The News
We all want to believe that local newspapers simply report the news with no bias. But the truth is that each news publication tends to have an agenda, and the only saving grace is when there are several agendas that the public gets to consider. When local newspapers consolidate, the news gets filtered by fewer people and the local readers wind up with news that may be serving someone else’s purpose.
A Good Thing – Consolidation Can Lead To Greater Access To Digital Resources
Consolidated local news organizations are finding that there are investors out there who are willing to invest in newspapers because consolidation, as was previously mentioned, could mean profitability. When news organizations consolidate and pool their resources, they can work to find better ways to deliver local news in a digital world that will bring back the young audience that abandoned the printed newspaper, and bring back the advertisers trying to reach that audience.
A Bad Thing – Less Local Coverage
When local newspapers consolidate, they combine their resources to try and deliver a profitable news product. That could mean that dailies have to become weeklies, and 40-page newspapers have to become 20-page publications. All of that points to less news coverage for local stories, which weakens the local newspapers’ position in the consumer community. When the local blogs are better equipped to report on certain stories, then that does not leave a lot of room for the familiar newspaper.
Is consolidation the wave of the future for local newspapers? For better or for worse, many local newspapers can expect to be bought up and made part of larger companies over the next two or three years. For many of these local newspapers, it could be the only way that they can survive long-term in an increasingly competitive industry. But for some, it means the end of an era and the end of local news as everyone used to know it.