Where would you expect an industry buffeted by technological change to make headlines? Detroit, of course, and indeed it is so this weekend. But I’m not talking about the car industry, I’m talking about my own: The Detroit News and Free Press are considering a novel response to free-falling circulation: stop even bothering to try to deliver the paper on most days. Other news about the newspapers, which may help explain why you haven’t been seeing much news in a lot of newspapers:
- Absurdly leveraged and not-overly-bright owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among other properties, files for bankruptcy;
- Newsweek follows 111 job cuts last year with perhaps 60 this year, designed to close most of the magazine’s foreign bureaus and many of its regional offices in the U.S.;
- Time lays off dozens to follow the hundreds they laid off last year; shutters the ghost-of-its-former-self Canadian edition for which I wrote an occasional column in the early 2000’s; plays host to further rumours and backbiting.
Our own situation is better, but Maclean’s did lay off six of our friends and colleagues last week because the bosses anticipate a bad year across the industry for ad sales. (Chris Selley landed here, for the many who miss him here.) The boss tells a magazine-industry website (which used to be a print magazine until the industry slump killed it earlier this fall) essentially what he tells us: Maclean’s has done extraordinarily well compared to most of the industry, but our gravity-defying act is imperfect in an environment of general slump.
Assorted schools of thought hold that blogs will fill the holes left by all of this. I won’t quarrel. If you think the problem is that the mainstream media are too squishy and socialist, you will have company over at Small Dead Animals. If you think we are too capitalist and corporate, Bigcitylib waits to welcome you. If you’re less convinced that a handful of industrious bloggers can begin to fill the gap that’s left when a great city like Detroit loses any semblance of daily newspaper reporting, then I’m afraid I don’t have an awful lot of reassuring news for you, but if it’s any consolation I agree completely.