Rule followers don’t make a lot of news. But exceptions to the rule make for good stories. That’s why today’s Detroit News runs this story by columnist Marney Rich Keenan about how a local community newspaper has been given a reprieve because, quite simply, the community demanded it.
This story actually begins with a posting on this blog, back in April. I posted then about the announcement to close part of a chain of community newspapers, owned by giant publisher Gannett, including the Birmingham Eccentric, which had been printed for more than a century. What happened next goes something like this…
Prominent national photojournalist Linda Solomon (who was raised and also currently lives in the Birmingham area) saw the blog link on my Facebook page and called me after reading the blog to discuss the situation. Like many in the community, she was stunned and saddened. I told her what I knew and then Linda sprung into action. In this case, new media helped to fuel a campaign to save a piece of traditional media.
Linda helped to organize a group of passionate community leaders who banded together to call on Gannett to reverse its decision. As Keenan reports in the Detroit News, one local leader even flew to suburban Washington to meet with Gannett executive Dave Hunke, who recently left Detroit upon promotion to corporate headquarters. After conversation, Gannett agreed to keep the Birmingham edition printing – once per week – if the community could muster 3,000 additional subscribers.
Yes – it was a “grassroots” campaign that actually worked. So, now, for Birmingham, this is their second chance. All residents who said they would miss their community newspaper must now agree to support it. It’s truly “use it or lose it.” If you know one of those who bemoaned the planned extinction of the Eccentric, let them know that they actually have a voice. All it takes is a subscription.