Old News

This week, the Leitrim Post closed its doors, laying off five people. This follows the closure of the Niall Mellon backed Voice group at the end of 2008.

So far, no established provincial newspaper has folded. But several provincial titles, some with decades of history, are on thin ice.

On a national level, the Sunday Tribune is regarded as the prime candidate for early closure.

Newspapers are in trouble for lots of reasons. Heavy borrowings make profitable titles into lossmakers. The web is stealing eyeballs, hurting advertising and circulation income.

But online readers expect news for free. Worse, they want to blog, creating their own content. Meanwhile, newspapers see print as Job One, and websites as an added extra.

One local newspaper in my area still carries a two month old story as its online lead. Last weekend I met an editor who is expected to maintain his paper’s website without an outside help.

Another keeps his website up to date only by limiting online content to the lead news and sports stories.

Provincial newspaper readers are older than average, and growing older. Younger audiences are unlikely to pay for content, but if they read, then they can bring advertisers.

[More later]

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.