Wednesday, January 7, 2009

why we need the local press

Again from CJR: this piece about the coverage of the New Year's Eve bomb threat in Aspen, Colorado -- and it's coverage by the Aspen Times.

As the town was evacuated, the main source of information for both the community and the outside press about what was going on came from the two Aspen papers, which updated the story as it evolved, posting police updates and press conferences on their websites. And when the perpetrator was identified as a local character, the reporters could rely on years of institutional memory -- calling on sources and experience "to explain how a local boy, fascinated with the mining history of this old mountain town, came to hate what Aspen had become and his own failure to capitalize on it."

But here's the irony:

"... the bomb threat story broke on a day in which The Aspen Times had featured a front-page letter to readers about the current threat to the survival of local newspapers, including many in surrounding Rocky Mountain towns. Publisher Jenna Weatherred wrote that the paper’s owner, Colorado Mountain News Media Company, had decided to close three of its local papers and that the Aspen paper was undergoing considerable changes as well, including cutting staff by nearly twenty percent, reducing the number of papers it distributes, and—starting this week—eliminating its Sunday paper, the least profitable edition."

Thanks for the link to Katie Redding, who on the downside had to give up her New Year's Eve to cover the story, but on the upside -- got to cover the sory

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