What’s black and white and bleeding all over?
I intend to post a few stories I wrote before starting this online archive. This piece on the decline of the Wisconsin newspaper industry dates to March 2009 when it was published by Wisconsin Interest.
It cuts close to home. I’ve spent my adult life working in newspapers (save a post-college stint at a factory in Kenosha), including, The West Bend News, The Capital Times and Isthmus, plus a cup of coffee at The Janesville Gazette.
The story begins:
If you’re a deep-pocketed business executive in a flourishing industry, you gather at the richly appointed Fluno Center on the UW-Madison campus for your deep-thought conferences. More modest enterprises and nonprofits send their execs to the UW’s shop-worn Pyle Center for their soul-searching. This, of course, was the proper setting for a worried group of newspaper executives on March 28, 2008.
The good news was that they weren’t squirreled away in a dining room at Denny’s out on the Interstate. Given the parlous state of newspaper economics, this might have made more sense. Their papers might have split the cost of the $5.99 “Grand Slam” breakfast special.
“We’re in a time of decline,” Stephen Gray of the American Press Institute told the 60 or 70 people present. “It’s a time of fear, depression, even despair.” Yes, fear, depression, even despair. Nobody was shocked by Gray’s words, because everybody knew they were true.
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