Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bad media month continues

It's not often you hear stories of two newspapers folding in the same month in Newfoundland, but that appears to be just what's happening. Along with the Humber Log, The Independent is apparently folding. I haven't seen the CBC story (because CBC bizarrely doesn't put up all their stories on the website), but both Ed and Sure B'y are talking about the story.

The Independent has been near death many times in its 2.5 years of existence and managed to find its way out, so that may happen again. And again, I haven't seen a hard copy of the paper since I got up here. Looking at a website is no way to judge the health of a paper. So I have no idea the number of ads, its circulation numbers and who is writing for it. Although it would be ironic if the Independent folded a week after editor Ryan Cleary took a shot at the projected future health of The Express.

If this is it for The Independent then I will mourn its passing, just as I mourn the departure of The Humber Log. Newspapers are valuable, important creations. Not just for getting news, but for also getting a sense of community. Both papers will leave a void in their passing. Having said that, I was working for a newspaper in competition with them. There were times I was annoyed with them and the paper was not without its flaws. But hell, it was a ballsy experiment. And sadly we're not going to see its like again anytime soon. Starting and running newspapers require a lot of money. I thought at one point in the mid-90s of trying to start up a paper similar to The Coast (site is down) in Halifax. This would have been before The Current got going in town.

The costs were huge. Staggering. And that was for something relatively small. The cost of launching and keeping The Independent going must have been ridiculous. You need years before you break even. I guess time ran out.

As for what this might mean for The Express, I honestly do not know. I have my ideas, but it is idle speculation at best, so I'll refrain from commenting. As for what it means for The Telegram, well, business as usual I suspect. I always hoped that if The Independent ever got a serious toehold and became a threat to the Telegram that the paper might step up, hire more reporters and improve its level and quality of coverage. Or at least get a better press than the piece of junk they currently have.

I'm not sure I see that happening now. Pity.

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