Denise Spooner <firstname.lastname@example.org>, co-editor of H-California, the H-Net group dedicated to California history and culture, sent around for posting this email about the state of newspapers in California. She invites input.
Date: March 10, 2009 3:49:23 PM PDT
Subject: Whither the News in the Golden State? – For Posting
Each morning, like thousands of Californians, I stumble out the front door
to retrieve the newspaper to read over breakfast. For all of my adult life
in the Southland my paper of choice has been the Los Angeles Times. Like
other newspapers the Times has undergone a series of devastating cuts that
have practically eviscerated the paper. Most recently, the powers-that-be
decided to merge the California section with the front section in the
interest of cost-cutting. For those of you who don’t receive the paper,
California and local news is now covered in the first several pages of the
front section, followed by a couple of pages of national news, and a page or
two of international news. At first, the cuts to the paper infuriated me,
particularly since I valued the paper’s coverage of national and
international news. Now I feel disoriented by the changes. While some
might argue that putting California first emphasizes the significance of
local issues to the lives of most people, I find that I have far less
interest in local news than I did before. I also find myself paging past
the national and international pages, perhaps disheartened by the emphasis
on local coverage? As an avid fan of weather-related news, it took me over
a week to realize the weather page, which, logically, used to be on the last
page of the California section, is now on the back of the business page.
This brings me to the title of my post: where is all this leaving us? I
know that there have been loads of conversations about the future of
traditional newspapers on talking heads programs both on radio and
television, and undoubtedly the blogosphere too. So I know that the future
doesn’t look good. But the gist of my question is in an additional
direction. While I consider new ways of coping with the changes to the Los
Angeles Times–including canceling my subscription and spending more time
with the New York Review of Books or some other source of information and
opinion–I wonder about the impact the demise of newspapers will have on
historical research as well.
I’m interested in hearing about the kinds of changes people are finding in
their local papers up and down the state, or even outside the state’s
borders. I know that the Sacto Bee just announced big cuts, that the SF
Chronicle is on the ropes, as are other important sources of information.
What strategies are you employing to find news, from local to international?
Are there any good electronic sources of state-oriented news, beyond the
websites associated with the newspapers? What ideas do you have about the
impact of the loss of newspapers on our shared interest in the study of the
history and culture of the Golden State?
Sadly, but wishing the best to all,
Denise Spooner, co-editor H-California