For at least 20 years, the conventional wisdom has been that newspapers are either dead or slowly dying.
First it was the advent of digital classified ads, which were predicted to fatally undercut print bottom lines. While Craigslist and other free outlets certainly delivered a one-two punch, they never delivered that anticipated death blow.
Then it was social media, the rapid growth of which was forecast to make legacy media obsolete. Instead of genuflecting to the social throne, the legacy media did what it does – pivoted and embraced the emerging system as a new way of communicating.
Recent years brought shouts of “fake news” and purporting of so-called “alternative facts.” While the vitriol and name-calling have impacted the credibility and circulation of legacy media among extreme factions, the majority of the population just didn’t buy it.
As it turns out, the greatest harm to legacy media has been inflicted internally. Consider this 2020 data from Penelope Rose Abernathy, Knight chair of journalism and digital media economics at the University of North Carolina’s Hussan School of Journalism and Media. Between fall 2018, when Abernathy last published her research on expanding news deserts, and 2020:
- Some 300 newspapers closed and 6,000 print journalists left the industry.
- Consolidation increased. The largest chains, backed by private equity firms and hedge funds, formed mega-chains comprising hundreds of newspapers whose managers focused more on profits than community need.
- Other media, including the once-decried and now-embraced digital media, failed to thwart the rise of news deserts, especially in economically struggling regions of the country. While more than 80 local online sites were established in 2019, an equal number went dark.
It’s not a pretty picture. Who in their right mind would launch a new publication in that climate?
Here’s the thing: What we knew about this community, and what you’ve proven by your welcome, bucks those trends. In our debut edition of the Pueblo Star Journal, we packed 24 pages with local news, events, data and advertisements, and you responded overwhelmingly.
On the day we launched our first edition, your response temporarily crashed our website within six hours of publication.
Vol. 1, No. 1, was distributed for free at eight pickup locations. Vol. 1, No. 2, is being distributed to over 30 locations throughout Pueblo, with more pickup spots to come. We started off printing 2,000 copies. Due to demand, we’re more than doubling that this time around.
Your kind words and gracious support left us humbled, honored and, to be honest, a little shell-shocked. As a team of veteran communications professionals, we knew the community craved this, but we had no idea how strongly you would embrace us.
Thank you, Pueblo. We are grateful beyond words for the welcome and empowered to continue the work that is more than a mission, it is our driving ethos: “To chronicle the Pueblo community while championing accountability, stimulating curiosity and supporting connections.”
You wanted another source of local news and information and we did our best to deliver with our introduction. Based on the response, we think we succeeded — but this is merely a first step.
We are grateful to have you with us as we dig deeper.