Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

joeDowntown

The future of Grand Rapids media

73 posts in this topic

New prediction -

With the GR Press cutting the size of their paper to 2 sections during the week, changing Mlive.com to a region instead of specific to the GR Press (it is now mlive.com/grand-rapids/ instead of mlive.com/grpress and is terribly hard to find anything that isn't entertainment or sports related) and the general state of the newspaper industry (NYTimes, the Tribune, etc), I think the GR Press will put the downtown location up for sale by the end of 2009. I also think they'll start moving people to the Walker location.

Thoughts?

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


With the GR Press cutting the size of their paper to 2 sections during the week, changing Mlive.com to a region instead of specific to the GR Press (it is now mlive.com/grand-rapids/ instead of mlive.com/grpress and is terribly hard to find anything that isn't entertainment or sports related) and the general state of the newspaper industry (NYTimes, the Tribune, etc), I think the GR Press will put the downtown location up for sale by the end of 2009. I also think they'll start moving people to the Walker location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, I've been hearing a lot lately about the alleged inevitable demise of newspapers. One idea thrown out there, of course, is a bailout--subsidizing the paper. Not a big fan of that idea, but I don't think anybody wants to see the death of the newspaper. I'm fine reading my paper online, though I too have found the new layout much more difficult to navigate. Still, what about the people who don't have computers and internet? It will be interesting to see unfold, but I think Joe is onto something here. Consolidation will probably have to happen across the board, which could easily mean getting some of their real estate off the books.

On a related note, I heard a guy on NPR talking about his new concept--the "Printed Blog." Basically, they will aggregate blog articles from a specific region and distribute them as a free "newspaper." They will be funded like the newspaper--with advertising, but their content will be much less expensive (or even free). The entrepreneur said he is rolling the Printed Blog out in NY, Chicago, and LA soon with other markets following shortly after if it goes well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, I've been hearing a lot lately about the alleged inevitable demise of newspapers. One idea thrown out there, of course, is a bailout--subsidizing the paper. Not a big fan of that idea, but I don't think anybody wants to see the death of the newspaper. I'm fine reading my paper online, though I too have found the new layout much more difficult to navigate. Still, what about the people who don't have computers and internet? It will be interesting to see unfold, but I think Joe is onto something here. Consolidation will probably have to happen across the board, which could easily mean getting some of their real estate off the books.

On a related note, I heard a guy on NPR talking about his new concept--the "Printed Blog." Basically, they will aggregate blog articles from a specific region and distribute them as a free "newspaper." They will be funded like the newspaper--with advertising, but their content will be much less expensive (or even free). The entrepreneur said he is rolling the Printed Blog out in NY, Chicago, and LA soon with other markets following shortly after if it goes well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't get it. Why print anything at all? Aren't syndicated columnists (like George Will, Kathleen Parker or Thomas Friedman) basically printed blogs of a sort?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For people who don't have the Internet. And people who don't like to read on the computer. But yeah, that would be only a small portion of the people. It would only serve a nich market and the advertising may not support the printing of a small market. And they would be missing out on audio and video.

How about having an inexpensive "reader" like an mp3/video player that receives the blogs via bandwidth from the analog tv spectrum. I'm sure they could sell low end ones for under $50.

Don't mind me, I'm just dreaming again. lol

~John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt the Press will move its reporters out of downtown, even if it sells its current building. It is cheaper for the reporters to work out of a central location where they can walk to many stories (city hall, courts, hospitals, Van Andel Arena, etc.) and where the driving distances to most of the area are smaller than they would be from Walker. If they were going to move the reporters, they would have done so when they built the Walker printing center. Also, the GRPress is benefiting from the consolidation of the state's smaller newspapers...copy editors who used to work in Lansing or Flint will now work at Michigan and Monroe.

However, since a lot of their old building is taken up with unused printing presses, I could definately see them selling the building and moving into rented space (possibly eventually in a new building on the same site?).

Also, as someone who has worked in newspapers, I think the future of the printed version is lots of local news...stories people can't get on CNN.com and might not look for if they didn't arrive on their front door every day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I figured I'd start a new thread about this and we could move the off-topic discussion about printed blogs here instead of in the "2009 Predictions" thread.

http://www.grfoundation.org/news.php?id=143

Grand Rapidians will have the opportunity to become citizen reporters with a soon-to-be established network of neighborhood news bureaus in the city, thanks to a $128,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation will use the funds to establish four neighborhood news bureaus in the city. Matching grants from the Community Foundation and other sources will round out the launch of program. In partnership with the Community Media Center (CMC), the news bureaus will give citizen reporters the tools, structure and mediums by which to gather, write and report on local news and events. When the news bureaus are fully established, reporters will be able to produce news for the web, radio or TV via the CMC’s resources. News bureaus will be physically located in recognized neighborhood gathering locations and each site will be outfitted with video and still cameras, computers, audio recorders and templates / connectivity required to “file” stories to the web. Additional production equipment and facilities are available for citizen reporter use through the Community Media Center.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for starting this topic. This is super cool. Thanks for this awesome news. This isn't something that print or TV media would welcome or want to see. This along with The Printed Blog could put the Grand Rapids Press out of business. I wouldn't dance on their grave, but it wouldn't sadden me either. It will be extremely refreshing to get news that the corporate media controllers don't want us to know.

It is nice seeing small steps toward "We The People". I hope "We The People" crush "The Corporate Run Government"!

~John

"The most important key to life is: Understanding. With understanding we can be the best we can be!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To get further off-topic, this is what I think newspapers will look like in the future (same technology, different application):

http://www.offbeatguides.com/

This basically builds a travel guide of any city based off information it finds on the web. Try it out (use Grand Rapids if you want to see a good sample). While it doesn't nail everything (like it doesn't list the Amway Grand or JW), it is pretty impressive.

I could easily see something like this replacing the newspaper. You like the Lions? Add it. Into Grand Rapids Christian High School? Add it. Hate the comics, skip it. Real Estate, simple (and in the areas you want).

The coolest thing about this site is it does on demand printing.

Give it a couple of years until flexible LCDs come out and the whole printing world will be turned upside down (and it's actually a great advertising medium if you think about it because you can target exactly who you want).

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To get further off-topic, this is what I think newspapers will look like in the future (same technology, different application):

http://www.offbeatguides.com/

This basically builds a travel guide of any city based off information it finds on the web. Try it out (use Grand Rapids if you want to see a good sample). While it doesn't nail everything (like it doesn't list the Amway Grand or JW), it is pretty impressive.

I could easily see something like this replacing the newspaper. You like the Lions? Add it. Into Grand Rapids Christian High School? Add it. Hate the comics, skip it. Real Estate, simple (and in the areas you want).

The coolest thing about this site is it does on demand printing.

Give it a couple of years until flexible LCDs come out and the whole printing world will be turned upside down (and it's actually a great advertising medium if you think about it because you can target exactly who you want).

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I like the new website and I really hated the old one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot understand for the life of me why people are so darn happy about the demise of traditional media. While the GR Press is a shadow of its former self, I for one will mourn when it no longer exists. "Citizen journalists"? Great. Untrained, opinionated, no financial backing for in-depth stories or series. This is supposed to replace the Third Estate?

In Ann Arbor (which has long been cursed by a pretty pathetic Booth paper), there is an on-line "paper" called the Ann Arbor Chronicle which is at least trying to cover local news. I think that this site (which is sort of a glorified blog, but organized more like a traditional paper) is staffed by former reporters, so at least there is an attempt to have trained journalists cover the news. If a vehicle like that was started in GR, and covered local news like the Press used to, I would be more comfortable. But the big problem remains -- who will pay? For everyone who (like me) is "comfortable" reading a paper on-line, that means little or no revenue going to the publisher. Over time, that kind of business model is suicidal.

Everyone hates their local paper -- until they don't have a local paper anymore and there is some injustice that needs exposure. When that happens, will the "citizen journalists" be able to raise a big enough stink to "throw the bums out?" I fear not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I cannot understand for the life of me why people are so darn happy about the demise of traditional media. While the GR Press is a shadow of its former self, I for one will mourn when it no longer exists. "Citizen journalists"? Great. Untrained, opinionated, no financial backing for in-depth stories or series. This is supposed to replace the Third Estate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I cannot understand for the life of me why people are so darn happy about the demise of traditional media. While the GR Press is a shadow of its former self, I for one will mourn when it no longer exists. "Citizen journalists"? Great. Untrained, opinionated, no financial backing for in-depth stories or series. This is supposed to replace the Third Estate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did you mean to say 'Fourth Estate'?

Clearly the direction is fewer and less frequently published but I don't see elimination of mid and large metro papers.

I'm certainly no fan of the media, arguably they do a better job cherry picking what they want to report and creating news than reporting it. No doubt if Edison announced the discovery of electricty today the headlines would read 'Candle Industry in Crisis!'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I, for one still enjoy relaxing on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and the morning paper. It's just not the same sitting in my easy chair holding my laptop while I drink my coffee. For one thing, I'm not out a chunk of coin if I happen to spill coffee on the paper because one of my kids jumps on me when I don't expect it. I also like to read professionally edited, spellchecked, and grammatically correct stories which is not a priority for many blogs. That being said, saying the Grand Rapids Press differs from citizen journalists in its lack of opinion is a bit of a stretch. Nothing against Republicans, but I swear that running as the Republican candidate is a rubber stamp for an endorsement from the Press. In an election pitting Adolph Hitler (R.) against Mahatma Ghandi (D.) the Press could be counted on to endorse Hitler utilizing some offbeat logic regarding his experience in governmental affairs and promoting industrial growth. And if the opposite were true and the Press had a clear liberal bent, that would still be wrong. It's not about the politics, it's about the fact that there is any bias at all. I don't want a paper that only likes Democrats any more than one that only like Republicans. What was it that Judge Judy said, "Don't p*ss on my leg and tell me it's raining" or something like that? I mean honestly, has the GR Press ever taken a position that conflicts with the opinion of say, US Rep Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland (and close personal friend of GR Press editor Mike Lloyd who proudly displayed a picture on the editorial page of them bicycling together a few years ago)?

:dontknow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with LA Dave on this one. The conservative/liberal differences between say the NYT and the WSJ aside, the nation is a better place because we have real journalism going on, with editors, bureaus overseas, and reporters who at least try to present articles free from opinion and conjecture.

Blogs, citizen journalism, and anything else that has no filter, no editor, no oversight, and no mandate to at least try to refrain from editorializing will never replace mainstream media in terms of credibility.

I can (sadly) see such a day when it happens anyway, the NYT and WSJ are gone and we all get our news from Gizmodo and Matt Drudge... but that is a sad day indeed and relegates us to something more like Mexico's newsmedia where newspapers are mostly editorials with facts sprinkled in for effect. While we all get some news in that form now, I think the civil means by which WSJ and NYT show opposite sides of stories helps the civil discourse in general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To be clear, the Press' editorial pages are independent and distinct from the news pages. I think that the editorial stance of the editorial pages is determined by the editorial page editor/s, and not by Mike Lloyd. Mike may have input into that stance, but I believe that his primary responsibility is for the reporting side of the paper, not the editorial.

The Press is more conservative now than say 30 years ago, when it was moderate-Michigan Republican in its outlook, more Bill Milliken than Peter Hoekstra. I don't know what changed -- maybe a desire to be more in tune with what the publisher felt was the conservative readership. I know that a constant theme of the pages is "West Michigan shouldn't be kicked around," and when you have a Democratic governor from Wayne County, there will be a natural antagonism.

But whether or not you care about the editorial philosophy, I fear the day when even the increasingly toothless GR Press is no more. But that is true for all mainstream media, not just the Press.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a couple of thoughts...

I'm not sure news consumers would be well served by user-selectable online aggregate news services. There's something valuable and constructive about the serendipity of a general coverage publication, just like there is something valuable and constructive about a Liberal Arts degree. Getting your information exclusively or predominately from sources you feel some affinity with is a very dangerous thing and ultimately makes for a myopic, dumbed-down, polarized, intolerant populace.

While the concept of 'citizen journalist' sounds appealing, in practice what you often end up with is public-access television in ink at best. I'd like to believe kids coming out of J-school want to use their training to do the right thing with it, to tell great stories, work as the eyes and ears of the public in matters of government scrutiny and accountability, integrity in commerce and in some sense, a moral compass for the greater good. Sadly, the days of the benevolent publisher or broadcaster are gone, replaced by hideously large corporations and private equity groups with little or no connection or interest in the community they claim to serve other than to extract as much revenue as possible.

Maybe the best we can hope for is for mainstream outlets to die a swift death and watch the carpetbagging owners dash off to some other venture. Maybe then, writers and editors, photographers and beat-wonks will be free to pursue their craft without the expectation of a 30% ROI hanging over their head. In a perfect world some of the media ownership regulations would be reinstated, but the last politician to undercut the very institutions that keep them front and center in the mind of the voter will be the first.

The takeaway of my bleak assessment? Support media outlets that sustain the precepts of what journalism is supposed to be, reject the one's that don't and hope emirging technologies fill the voids without corrupting themselves in the process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.