newspaper blackout poem
Originally uploaded by Precious Roy

On March 2, RealClearPolitics ran with its list of the Top Ten newspapers in trouble. By the time the list appeared, one of the newspapers on it, the Rocky Mountain News, was already gone. 

This week, Time magazine has weighed in with its Top Ten “tim-berrrrr” list. The odds are pretty good that by the time the next issue hits the stands, one of those will be gone. Let’s compare:

RealClearPolitics Time
1 Seattle Post-Intelligencer Philadelphia Daily News
2 Rocky Mountain News Minneapolis Star Tribune
3 Philadelphia Daily News Miami Herald
4 Miami Herald Detroit News
5 San Francisco Chronicle Boston Globe
6 Detroit News San Francisco Chronicle
7 Chicago Sun-Times Chicago Sun-Times
8 St. Paul Pioneer Press New York Daily News
9 Los Angeles Times Fort Worth Star-Telegram
10 New York Daily News Cleveland Plain Dealer

Hm. Two lists, twenty slots, but only fourteen newspapers named. It can’t have been an easy story to write for either publication: It’s not unlike openly speculating which of your aunts and uncles will die first.
I, in my amateur opinion, suspect the next to actually go will be the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, since Hearst is now openly weighing whether to close it outright or go online-only. It can’t be a good sign that one of the links on their home page right now is a “tell us about your favorite P-I memories” solicitation. The Detroit News could surprise me and fold tomorrow, or they might be able to hang on for a few more weeks now that they only publish four days a week. 
If I were the average big-time blogger, I would be a lot more worried about this than they appear to be. Instead of congratulating myself for being right that Old Media didn’t know how to make the transition to New, I would be wondering where the stories I link to tomorrow will come from.
All these newspapers are in trouble because… Well, they each have unique problems, but they all share two really big ones: (1) A whopper of an economic downturn kicked them in the gonads; and (2) they never really believed that the traditional daily newspaper could go away. The Business Insider is onto something when they calculate that for the New York Times, giving each of its subscribers a Kindle would cost half as much as publishing an actual newsprint daily. I’m hoping the all new, online Christian Science Monitor can show everyone how it’s done.
C’mon, guys, it ain’t whether to go digital, it’s when and how. Change or die.