While what happens in rural Texas or Georgia might not matter at the national level, it matters immensely to the people who live in these small towns and communities. The local news the receive from their television stations or newspapers is their only opportunities to get the news most relevant to them.
Unfortunately the slowing of the newspaper industry hurts small towns like these the most. Big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will always have dedicated news coverage because of the sheer amount of news that takes place in cities that size.
That means that people who need their news the most are at the biggest risk of losing it as the news industry slows and transitions. When Gannett purchased many of the small newspaper outlets, it was with the intention of keeping them afloat. Now, even with the financial support than Gannett can provide, these small newsrooms are getting even smaller and the crucial news they provide is becoming less reliable.
While alt-weeklies can fill this void to an extent, they often don’t have the same type of hard news that daily papers have. With the cuts coming to these already depleted newsrooms, the time and effort that is needed for hard news and investigative journalism simply isn’t there.
The slowing of the newspaper industry isn’t a new phenomenon, but the recent cuts to digital-native outlets like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post did come as a surprise. Many of my peers hoped to get into these industries as they appeared to be more stable than traditional news outlets. While these cuts may be an aberration, it still gives pause to those getting ready to enter the industry.
One relative positive about the cuts that are happening is that many of the journalists being laid off are those with lots of experience and thus requiring a higher salary. Many of the spots that are left empty are being filled with entry-level journalists who can be paid less and be groomed into what the paper wants and needs.
Although I don’t think that the world of journalism is dying, it is certainly slowing down. What it may look like in the future can’t be determined now, but there will still be jobs for those that want to do hard journalism and more specifically do it well.