The Problem with General Newspapers

While I was doing some research on Bluffton Today and MyClaySun, I came across a great quote from Steve Yelvington posted in December 2006:

The problem faced by "general" news organizations is that they fit poorly into a matrix of specialization. [SNIP] newspapers in particular are poorly suited to specialization. They evolved in an information economy (and entertainment economy) of scarcity. In the 19th century a daily printed product was an exciting breakthrough in bandwidth; in the 21st it's a puny little trickle.

Yet most [SNIP] newspapers continue to operate on the omnibus model, dumping onto the doorstep (or, more often, throwing into the driveway) a mashup of local, regional, national and global news, sports and business coverage. It is a stew suited to an earlier era, one that is consumed not to satisfy needs but rather to satisfy a fading habit.



UPDATE [30.03.07]: Yelvington's comments tie in with a particular shift in orientation of smaller (local, regional) news media (and in particular: newspapers) to 'hyperlocalism', as for example the American Journalism Review reports. Is this good news - more relevant information for a geographically bounded citizenry - or just another way to cut costs (no more expensive original national/international news), save on investigative reporting of for example big business and government, or to strategize the news away from traditionally underserved communities such as ethnic minorities and immigrants, and youths?

In other words: is hyperlocal journalism the kind of news that particularly, exclusively, serves the paranoid middle class in their gated communities? And thus, in doing so, is journalism really contributing to dismantling that what it always claimed to be providing: a society's social cement?

UPDATE [11.04.07]: and to add to the exploitative potential and corporate appropriation of media participation, check out this bit of news from Reuters:

Media General to Cut Jobs, Launch 'Hyper-Local' Sites

Media General is laying off about 70 employees at the Tampa Tribune, its largest newspaper, as it cuts costs. It will also cut 15 jobs at local Florida television station WFLA. The company plans to launch "hyper-local" Web sites designed for local communities.