What Happens In Youngstown Won’t Stay In Youngstown

We’ve told you how more than 1,000 newspapers across the country have closed in the past decade.

We’ve also told you how despite the fact that a Harvard researcher predicts half of newspapers that survived will last less than another decade, 71% of news consumers think the media business is healthy.

There’s a big disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to the future of media outlets, even while we’re still near the top of an economic cycle and when trustworthy information seems to be in demand.

If nothing else we have written about these trends has gotten your attention, this should – a community with a metro population of more than a half-million is about to lose its only daily newspaper.

That’s right, about 60 days from now, it’s not just that it won’t have as many beat reporters, like virtually every other news outlet in the country. It’s not just that it will have fewer pages or more content online. It’s not just that it won’t accept the quantity of PR pitches that it did 10 years ago. It simply won’t exist.

The community is Youngstown, Ohio. The paper is the Vindicator, which just marked 150 years of continuous newsgathering.

This isn’t about Wall Street ownership. The paper was locally owned. This is about a business model that has been changed forever with nothing viable to replace it ready in time to save this outlet.

If you’re cheering this news as comeuppance for the media because of some sort of perceived pattern of coverage that doesn’t align with your worldview, be careful what you wish for. Who else will cover the stories that aren’t about party politics that drive a community forward? Sure, there are TV stations, but their resources are limited and they are likely only inclined to cover stories that “work” for the visual medium. There is no precedent for something like this and the consequences are unknown.

If you think the market forces that drove the Vindicator to this point aren’t at work wherever you live, you’re wrong. Media organizations don’t like to share their own financial news with their audiences but you can be certain that similar factors are at work.

If you’re in PR and haven’t adapted to the new realities, still working media lists like it’s 1999 while outlets – not just jobs, but outlets themselves are being lost –  you’re also being “disrupted” before your very eyes.