This week we are saying the final good bye to our last local 4th Estate pilar… The Bergen Record. Once owned and operated by three generations of a local publishing family, The Record was recently purchased by Gannett, a publicly traded American media holding company and the largest newspaper company in the U.S. (see links below)
Over the last 20 years, the media landscape has been imploding like a sinkhole. Today, only 6 media companies control about 90% of media, compared to 50% in 1983, according to The New York Times.
Eight years after the Great Recession sent the U.S. newspaper industry into a tailspin, the pressures facing America’s newsrooms have intensified to nothing less than a reorganization of the industry itself, one that impacts the experiences of even those news consumers who are unaware of the tectonic shifts taking place.*
In 2015, the newspaper sector had perhaps the worst year since the recession and its immediate aftermath. Average weekday newspaper circulation, print and digital combined, fell another 7% in 2015, the greatest decline since 2010. A January 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that print newspapers trailed nearly every other news category such as TV, radio, social media and news websites.
Not surprisingly, Gannett plans to lay off about 400 employees from The Bergen Record and its various North Jersey Media holdings so that they can focus on and “strengthen their digital media news department.”
This is bad for Ridgewood residents since the role of the free press in strengthening democracy and good governance through its research and oversight is so vitally important.
Can over-worked and underpaid digital news staff still produce excellent journalism?
America loves to hate the media, but it apparently it has an appetite for cheap, flashy, instant content, and few editors will either pay attention to or pay for in-depth journalism anymore.