The Not-So-Daily Union

One reads that local Daily Union will begin delivery by mail, and that this will push forward the publication deadline by twelve hours.  While the change of delivery matters to subscribers, the change in publication deadline will matter more.

The Daily Union will no longer be able to get a story on an evening meeting or event into the next day’s newspaper.  The story might still appear online the next day, but not in the print publication. Under the changed publication deadline, a story on a Monday evening school board meeting, for example, would not appear in print until Wednesday afternoon.  (The DU has always been an afternoon newspaper, even now when afternoon newspapers are almost extinct.)

A few implications —

As print stories on meetings become less timely, the pressure on the DU to develop a robust digital offering will grow.

Digital publications convey a different sensibility from print ones.  With the exception of energetic and inquisitive national writing, most print publications lack the talent to succeed in a digital medium. See Shirky’s ‘Shock of Inclusion.’

The DU is dull and doddering as it is; no one at the paper writes well and energetically enough to appeal to a large digital audience. They’ve so catered to local officials and self-declared town notables that their credibility with competitive, well-read residents is almost nil.

The best option for the paper would be for a wholesale turnover in reporters and editors.  Even this, however, is a poor option, as good replacements will be hard to find at the wages and conditions the DU will offer.

Even if they find good reporters, there will still be a problem for the DU – and any local newspaper – on making a go of it.  See Print’s Decline (and the Limits of a Digital Lifeboat).

Officials who thought that dull and doddering reporting was a substitute for complete and timely recordings of meetings have offered the public too little, and now will rely on both too little and too late.

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