There’s an article on the New York Times right now that is a collection of some different opinions as to what newspapers need to be working toward to remain in business. Some of the contributors simply provide the same arguments that have been heard over and over again (cut back on staff and delivery frequency, charge more for the print, etc.). However, I found one of them to actually be pretty interesting and surprisingly forward-looking. Geneva Overholser, the director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and former editor of The Des Moines Register, writes a great post that encourages newspapers to be smart about what they cut and to look around in their respective communities for coverage that is already being done by other groups. She writes:
look around the community to see who is doing good information-gathering and sharing. New Web-only publications may be covering various parts of the community. A consortium of arts organizations may have a reliable events calendar. Television or radio stations may have continued some substantial elements of government news coverage. An alternative weekly may have good reviews of films and theater and concerts. Bloggers may be assembling information from parents at various levels of the local school system and a nonprofit group may be gathering well-researched local health information.
It’s this kind of step toward community collaboration that I think is necessary for some newspapers like the Seattle P.I. to survive. She’s right to emphasize the importance of local news, because I think that is the best thing that newspapers have as a selling point right now.