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|Monday, June 24, 2013|
BY MARK BLAINE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
The short term news about the news in Portland is painful. The Oregonian's restructuring leaves real questions about the future of critical local coverage that's difficult to pay for, but it will also push readers and journalists to address new ways of getting and using news — whether we like it or not.
Advance's idea is simple. Its four-day delivery decision relates to the unevenness of advertising revenue across the week. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday editions attract fewer advertisers and often lose money, so the decision to cut distribution on those days is a cost-saving measure, albeit a risky one. Print is where many readers are most at home, and the move relies on shifting some of those readers to digital products on off days.
"Once you break the daily newspaper reading habit, it never comes back for some folks," writes Hartman.
We're moving to a news ecosystem that won't have one dominant news source in one dominant platform. That's a good thing for diverse coverage but a challenge to find sustainable business models.
Readership is also up at The Lens, a nonprofit news organization launched four years ago, and several hyperlocal new sites. There's even talk of a newspaper territory war of sorts, although as James Gill points out in a column in the Advocate on Saturday, it's not like the really old days when insults exchanged in print once led to a duel between two New Orleans editors.
It's a non-traditional news approach unfolding in a way more in line with how a publication that started as digital would develop content. The Lens's financial pressures — trading owners for donors — lead to a different news product: It requires partners in established media organizations, and it can't try to cover everything because it runs on a much smaller staff.
Mark Blaine is an award-winning investigative reporter and the coordinator of the Gateway to Media series in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.
Editor's note: Oregon Business accepts op-ed columns on topics relevant to the state's business community. See op-ed submission guidelines here.
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