Monday, July 13, 2009

Couldn't Someone Have Saved the Eagle Times?

Demise of Small New Hampshire Daily Could Be an Anomaly. Or it Could be the Harbinger of Things to Come

Many of the newspapers that have either closed, or are in danger of closing, have been battered by competition or the declining need or desire for a second read who often don't have the time or inclination nowadays to read even one paper, e.g. Denver, Seattle, Tucson.
But the conventional wisdom has been that one-newspaper towns, while not immune to the meltdown in the industry, were better insulated, especially in small towns where there were few other sources for news or better vehicles for advertising.
So much for conventional wisdom, with word last week that the Eagle Times in Claremont, N.H. abruptly shut down after Friday's edition.
Maybe it's not a big deal to you, but it is to folks who live in the communities served by the Eagle Times.
What's troubling is not so much that the paper was losing money, although you'd think that'd be harder to do when you don't have much competition for ads -- even in a down market -- from traditional media.
Rather, it's disconcerting that no other company stepped up to buy the paper at any price in the year it was on the market. Not a single entity viewed a daily paper as a viable medium worth saving. The die was cast. Now the Eagle Times withers, similar to the factories and commercial activity that long ago vanished from this hardscrabble corner of New Hampshire.
The Eagle Times was family-owned, but that means squat in this current environment. All the big newspaper chains are on the ropes or in bankruptcy, so it's not a question of resources. The real question is how many more papers like the Eagle Times are out there?

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