When City Papers Fold, What Happens to the City?

City papers have a unique ability to draw together people with diverse backgrounds, while explaining a shared history of a city. Now with the onset of a financial crisis, city papers that were already suffering lower revenues are closing. But where does that leave urbanites?

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With the onset of an economic recession, failing ad revenue, and, of course, the growing interest in receiving news instantaneously via the web and other social networking means, the future of print journalism, especially that of city papers is left with a big question mark plastered on their front pages. Last week, New York Times reported”>the New York Times reported that that The Bristol Press, which has been covering central Connecticut since 1871 announced it is facing the possibility of folding. With the paper in jeopardy, Bristol is uncertain how its news will be told:

Who knows what will replace The Bristol Press if it becomes another business out of time in this old city of watches and clocks? Maybe a weekly newspaper will step up to serve the community’s needs, or a well-crafted Web site dedicated to all things Bristol will appear.

The Courier Post, located in Cherry Hill, N.J. and owned by media empire Gannett, just completed a round of layoffs and buyouts earlier this month. Even the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, in light of one of the most important times in their city’s history with the big three automaker’s future and the future of thousands of their citizens losing their jobs, have been forced by their holding company Detroit Media Partnership to cut home delivery to three days per week and move the bulk of editorial content online.

While having the majority of news going “online first” can radically change the informational discourse of a city, the possibilities of the web are endless. Although the quality of online reporting cannot compare to the depth of that in print, information that is shared on the web is typically information that normally would not get covered in print. Take any piece of information you acquire on your city’s Facebook group or from other locals on Twitter, or even on the comments section of your local newspaper. The Web offers an interconnectivity print can never possess. In addition, with the possibilities of open source journalism, with sites like Spot.us and social networking sites like Twitter, the future of web journalism for cities has only just now begun to reveal itself.

While countless blog posts and newspaper articles have been dedicated to the dilemma of what will happen when newspapers are extinct, few seem to consider what will happen to cities when they no longer share one central record of daily events.

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