Monday, June 14, 2010

Concerned About Local News

Yesterday, the Intowner announced that effective with its July 2010 edition, it will no longer print and distribute hard copies of the newspaper.  Instead, its content will be exclusively available on its website.  (If you would like to receive the newspaper via e-mail, send an email request to

I don't know about you, but I typically pick up the Intowner when I am walking down 17th Street NW or come across a stack a neighborhood business or near a metro.  I tend to read it at the local coffee shop or while waiting for a table at a restaurant.  If I don't finish reading the paper there, then I pack it up and take it home with me.  While having the articles available online is helpful for purposes of archiving and sharing articles with others, I don't buy into the idea that web-only can replace the print edition.

Overall, I'm concerned about the state of our local news coverage.  For those who live in the Nation's capital, it is a longstanding concern that are newspapers are dominated by national issues, leaving local news, politics, and general public interest stories in the shadows.

The Washington Examiner provided some new life to local coverage, but tok a loss when Michael Neibauer moved to the Washington Business Journal (which has interesting local coverage but is generally subscription-only).

Mike DeBonis's move is the Washington Post's gain, but a loss to the Washington CityPaper, which has substantially reduced the size of its print edition features in favor of shorter blog pieces.  Loose Lips, which had provided a wide-ranging round up of local stories from a wide range of sources, is now a short cut-and-paste job of primarily major media sources.  Don't expect any substantial exposes on fake nonprofit organizations, forged signatures, or government corruption any time soon.

The Washington Times is rumored to be considering ditching its print edition for an web-only publication.  But few would care given its lack of local coverage.  The paper laid off 40% of its newsroom staff at the conclusion of 2009.

The Current Newspapers continue to provide a source of in-depth local coverage.  My criticism of The Current is its lack of availablity outside of its core distribution areas, Dupont, Georgetown, and some areas of Northwest.  The paper stubbornly refuses to provide a viable online edition to complement its hard copy.  One can only download massive pdf files of the paper, usually in two parts.  It's impossible to forward articles to others (or even cut and paste them) or to find archived articles on a topic online.  What a waste of a valuable resource.

Finally, while some local blogs that focus on local issues have flourished, it seems many more have fallen to the wayside.  Is that just my perception?  This may simply be the nature of the blogisphere... it takes an incredible amount of effort to regularly post unique content and build readership.

To conclude on a bit of good news, I'm glad to see that The Washington Blade is back, after briefly becoming the DC Agenda when its parent company died, and it has resisted the urge to move to a web-only publication.


IMGoph said...

all i can say is "hear, hear," and i agree completely.

local news coverage is not what it should be in a city of this size and importance. here's hoping that TBD will be a positive addition.

Tom Bridge said...

Recognize that there's also some good work being done online by Martin at DCist, Dave Stroup at We Love DC, and now Mike Grass at City Paper online, too.

It's not just about the print media anymore, and I think that's a change we can all appreciate, too.