Thursday, March 19, 2009

Imagining Hartford without its daily

Even though my media history class was discussing "What 'missing the newspaper' means," I missed David Folkenflik's NPR piece last month that used my alma mater, The Hartford Courant, as a "what if?" example of just that topic. I'm glad I stumbled on it today. And, thanks to NPR's use of the Web, a transcript and the original audio are online...

See Imagining A City Without Its Daily Newspaper. As Folkenflik mentions, the Courant is the nation's oldest continuously published newspaper, as well as being the main source of news in the capital city of one of the wealthiest states in the union.

Here's one telling scene:
"In the State House press room, unopened mail was piled high on the desk set aside for The New York Times on a recent day. The Times stopped covering Hartford altogether last year. Some in-state dailies no longer send reporters either. The retreat by other news organizations makes even the diminished Courant more relevant than ever."

Folkenflik's follow-up story discusses the nonprofit model for newspapers, and one of his examples is another Connecticut publication, the online-only New Haven Independent, started a few years ago by former newspaperman Paul Bass.

Note: "What 'Missing the newspaper' means" is a classic study by Bernard Berelson, conducted during a newspaper delivery strike in New York City more than 50 years ago. For a good summary, and a follow-up, see "No newspaper is no fun--even five decades later," by my friend Clyde Bentley.

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