Yes, another one:
Back Taxes Threaten To Bury Bend Bulletin Owners
The melodrama is strong with the narrative spin:
Western Communications runs seven newspapers across the West, but each one is a local institution made up of actual human beings — people like Geoff at the Redmond Spokesman, Patty at the Baker City Herald, Judi with the Bend Bulletin, Karen from the La Grande Observer, Jessica at the Del Norte Triplicate, Lyn at the Union Democrat or maybe Jane with the Curry Coastal Pilot.
These papers serve communities where no one else consistently reports the news. Meanwhile, their parent company has been existing on the brink of foreclosure. Western Communications hasn’t paid nearly $1 million owed in local property taxes and interest. The company is between three and five years behind on taxes in five different counties across Oregon and California.
No one else? I think social media took up a lot of the slack. The amateurs took over, kids!
But in that passage something interesting: for all the talk that media companies were making truckloads of money and were just being stingy with newsrooms, we can see that’s not quite the case.
For all the talk how the New York Times and Washington Post are “doing well”, it is a myth. What you are seeing is people who still use those products getting pooled to well-known properties so they can still do the old-fashioned, “Did you read…?” convos and have a better chance of someone saying, “Yes.” That is an aging readership and not a long-term foundation. When even that proves wanting, that will go.
Comic books had that niche and the reason why we ended up with just DC and Marvel dominating — it becomes an obscure specialty. Once upon a time, vinyl was standard, then it survived with a small niche, but it never actually stayed relevant.
Journalism isn’t going to have that luck. Music and comics were never dependent on hooking audiences with local. News is. “Far away” issues do not have the same pull, and it is easier for attention to wander away. A national story grips for a short spell, and then there is no guarantee the next one will grab interest. Local kept the interest going, and now that there is definitive proof that local is done, the major outlets are going to see the same fate, and many already are.
It is no different than a human body that is bedridden and cannot move. If the smaller veins die out, the big ones follow. They push for awhile, taking on more of the load for survival, but in the end, they die out, too.
I have literally been writing about this online and in book form for a quarter century. Repeatedly. I have sounded the alarm clinically. I have said it kindly. I have said it passionately. I have even said it angrily.
You cannot get through to the arrogant, however.
But no one can say that I didn’t say it — or say it first…