Tuesday, October 30, 2012

National Print Media Transition

            This blog post is using the current transition in news media to present the divisions within a community’s accessibility to media sources. As of Wednesday, Oct 6th the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper print publication is only three days a week. [1] This was due to the news organization’s economic conditions and a transition to increase frequent internet access of daily news.
            I referenced the anticipated cut backs of the print edition of the Times-Picayune newspaper in my Tuesday, June 26, 2012 Local and National Print Media Observation blog post. In my recent research for up to date enews articles reporting on the “digital transition,” I have come across an article, The Fight to Save The Times-Picayune, posted on the Best of New Orleans website that highlights the summer protest to save a daily “printed” paper for the city of New Orleans. The article mentions the social media internet sites and rallies used in attempts to save the Times-Picayune and to support the laid off staff of the paper.[2]  
            The article outlines a possible insight of how the newspaper owners, Newhouse Media, planned to implement change with a model that was tested on other city newspaper organizations they owned. Since the model “worked” for the Ann Arbor News in Michigan with no community outrage against the three-day a week print version newspaper, the template was adapted for the other Newhouse Media papers, including the Times-Picayune.[3]
            I wanted to acknowledge this template concept, which tends to be considered for any national newspaper. The first city to test the template was Ann Arbor, Michigan, which obviously has different demographics than the city of New Orleans. My own observation from the articles and following past articles of the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina event in 2005, is that the New Orleans community’s experience with a print version of a newspaper should have been considered more carefully by the Newhouse Media. During the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina, the staff of the Times-Picayune not only followed through with local investigative news reporting, they supplied a local print version of the newspaper, bringing facts to the devastated community.[4] This print media object, the newspaper, was a symbol for a continual daily routine in a time of need for the city and it’s residence. 
            The Fight to Save The Times-Picayune article has an absence of mentioning a certain portion of the New Orleans community, the residents who do not have regular internet access. This portion of the community was mentioned in the earlier articles I refer to in my June 26th blog posting that referenced lower income and older citizens who would have limited access to local news within the transition.[5]  Websites and social media networks are presented in the article as part of the process to protest the transition of the newspaper, but no alternative ideas are presented for those citizens in the community to gain access to local news.
            The internet provides the availability of information for individuals in the community beyond a news organization’s website. The internet company Google has begun a program to offer lower income areas internet access. The sign ups have started in Kansas City, Missouri. A New York Times articles states, “Convincing residents of the importance of Internet access — to apply for jobs, do research, take classes and get information on government services — was one of Google’s primary challenges here.”[6] These challenges and understanding of a community’s past and present social, political, and cultural environment are instrumental in the process of overcoming the “digital divide.” To find out further details of bridging the digital divide in Kansas City, KC Currents hosted a roundtable discussion for their area. This discussion highlights the library’s role within the community and the strengths of the Google Fibers program as well as the future unknowns of the distribution of digital media. 
             The digital divide is on of the many elements that contribute in the current transition of print media culture to digital. The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper has listened to the a portion of the New Orleans community who voiced a need for a daily print paper and started to print a daily edition in New Orleans.[7] The service from another news organization fulfils the void for residents who do not have regular internet access to the local news. There are still absences present within the New Orleans community for future accommodations or initiating alternative means for internet access.  

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