Losing the local


I wrote in comments to Dan Gillmor’s post yesterday that David Lazurus sounded frustrated and perhaps even frightened, and then today I read from Tim O’Reilly that the San Francisco Chronicle is in trouble. This follows on from ValleyWag, which has stated that the long-term publication, InfoWorld, is closing it’s doors: news I’ve been expecting ever since Jon Udell left the publication.

What’s interesting with all of this is that people keep conflating these publications with ‘hard’ copy that’s put on the street. These organizations are more than just a way to add to land fill: they provide the infrastructure from which discovery is made and then passed on. Oh, it may seem as if most of these publications only put out crap nowadays, but if you’ll look closely, you’ll see the quiet stories, the unexciting facts, and stuff we need to know to go about our lives. We have taken all of this for granted, and like the song, we won’t know what we’ve lost until it’s gone.

On the possibility of losing our local publications, Tim writes:

We talk about creative destruction, and celebrate the rise of blogging as citizen journalism and Craigslist as self-service advertising, but there are times when something that seemed great in theory arrives in reality, and you understand the downsides. I have faith both in the future and in free markets as a way to get there, but sometimes the road is hard. If your local newspaper were to go out of business, would you miss it? What kinds of jobs that current newspapers do would go undone?

We’d lose all of our quiet stories, for a start. We’ll lose our quiet stories, and then we’ll be reminded that the Big Stories were once quiet stories that someone found and told.

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