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CONSIDER THIS Local Paper Paywall

April 07, 2011

CONSIDER THIS   

   

The Wenatchee World is my regional source for printed news. They have announced the

discontinuation of their free internet option based on a concern over fairness for those with paid subscriptions.

This move may not improve their bottom line but may bolster their standing with their faithful base. The Wenatchee

World joins other print media in dealing with decreased advertising revenue and high operational costs. The

rapidly expanding distribution of information over the internet creates a serious challenge to the capital

intensive mechanical printing press.

Local collection and distribution of news is a challenge and must

satisfy locals to maintain the needed subscribers. Without consistent strong convictions, a newspaper or a radio

station can end up offering a lot of information but not meaningful community news. Without being the conscience

and cheer leader for the community, a newspaper or radio station looses its community value. Cost considerations

and a challenging revenue stream can pressure an owner-manager to reduce their willingness to pursue community

issues creating a more reserved approach to any investigative reporting. Digging out and exposing local social and

political issues is risky and expensive.

Years ago, the Wenatchee World led the way in promoting the

construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. At one point they effectively pursued problems within the Chelan PUD

exposing questionable activities concerning diesel generators, bonuses and mismanagement. They helped the

community see behind the closed doors of the PUD management team and exposed the failings of the elected

board.  The Wenatchee World recently failed to pursue serious questions within the fiber communication

project, problems brought to their attention several years earlier.

Strong intentions and a community

spirit are meaningless if there is an overriding fear of loosing subscribers or a weakness in buckling to

pressures of local businesses. At one time, strong advertising and classified revenue gave the Wenatchee World the

courage to take aggressive stands on issues. It might be time to involve freelance community reporters since the

eyes of the public can generally see more than paid reporters fearful of editorial approval. It might be time for

the Wenatchee World to adopt a free internet news service, supported through electronic advertising and do away

with the printed version. It is difficult to admit that the internet is now the dominate distribution source for

news with the printed page in a secondary position. The internet has almost totally replaced the printed

classified advertising and is beginning to attract the majority of product and service advertising.

I

will likely pay the $9.99 each month to have access to the electronic version of the Wenatchee World. However, if

$119.88 per year is needed to cover higher priority expenditures, I’ll make more trips to the public library

where my taxes help support their services including free copies of the paper.

This is Werner Janssen,

celebrating the opportunity to express one person’s opinion. I hope my thoughts will stimulate your own

thinking.
 

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