May 25, 2009

Citizens won't let newspaper stop printing

The idea of losing their community newspaper was too much for some in one Michigan community so "the presses will roll on - for now."
"The Birmingham Eccentric was to have published its last edition next Sunday after 131 years of operation, But a grass-roots effort to save the paper has gained momentum in the past few weeks, leading Observer & Eccentric officials to continue publishing on Sundays — but with some key conditions.
  • The paper must generate 3,000 new paid subscriptions by July 1 and a total of 5,000 subscriptions by Oct. 1.
  • Ad revenue also must increase to put the paper on a profitable basis."
Possible? Maybe. The small group that has bought some time will seek suggestions and hopes to attract a large turnout to show support at a “Town Hall Meeting to Save the Eccentric” from 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, at The Community House. .

Original plans called for the Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Troy and Rochester editions of the Eccentric to close May 31. The Southfield edition and the Observer & Eccentric group’s Mirror newspaper are merging into a multi-community Sunday newspaper called the South Oakland Eccentric.

Thanks to a posting from Rick Haglund on Facebook for leading me to the news of the community effort to keep the newspaper open I couldn't find anything new about the rest of the newspapers.

By the way, Hamtramck has a newspaper again - the Hamtramck Review. (There's a PDF of a 10-page newspaper being published less then a month after the Hamtramck Citizen closed April 20.

Att the Rethink News symposium at Michigan State University, Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey, managing editor of Model D, talked about how some in Hamtramck were looking for ways to keep a newspaper going, including using high school students to report the news. Metro Times had a few more details on the effort to revive a newspaper in the Detroit suburb.

While you are on the Birmingham Eccentric site, you can check out a column from the editor, Greg Kowalski. He suggested that newspapers should learn from Hollywood, and its battle against TVs in his May 21 column.
"By the early 1950s, the film studios knew they needed something new to combat the popularity of TV. They proceeded on the concept that films had to give the viewers something they couldn't get at home. That led to the development of Cinemascope ... a bit of a gimmick ... But it was different. And it worked. It gave the studios a way to hold onto the audiences until better business practices could be adopted."
Kowalski also suggested that newspapers remember that Hollywood studios first blocked their content from TV and that newspapers need to use their "infrastructure and experience to deliver top quality reporting" to develop a business model to ensure a future.

Not all newspapers are failing in Michigan. Detroit's Crain Business looks at the state of weekly newspapers in Michigan, noting that C&G Newspapers is expanding its 19 free direct-mail weeklies.


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