So says Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times. He writes that 2007 will be the year for small, local newspapers.
Westneat bases his observations on his own experience covering Auburn, WA for a small daily, the Valley Daily News, which is now going out of business.
That kind of small-town newspapering is considered boring today.Unhip. Supposedly we're all too globalized or tuned into Web videoclips to want such provincial news.
My own view is the opposite. I think intensely local, professionallygathered news is due for a comeback. It's the one thing you can't getanywhere else. The story of the death of the Valley Daily News is thatit blew it when it combined with its partner, the BellevueJournal-American, into one amorphous, suburban blob.
I hope that this is true, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't see anyone trying to start a Winooski newspaper, to replace the one that I folded a year and a half ago (when I was the volunteer editor/publisher of the Winooski Eagle).
I do, however, see more and more people signing up for the Front Porch Forum service. I just recommended it to someone today. It's not a newspaper, but it's a great way to share local information. For example, yesterday my forum included an item from the Winooski City Engineer, explaining the water leak that's developed on my street. I don't know how else the city would have communicated that to me, other than sending out an email. The Free Press wouldn't have covered it in the same way.
Of course, FPF in no way replaces good investigative journalism, but at least it helps neighbors communicate. I don't know why the city hasn't come up with a service like this on its own. It seems like a no-brainer.