Today’s Thought: Are the days of the metro newspaper officially numbered?

It was another crushing week of buyouts and layoffs at daily newspapers all over the country.

The Palm Beach Post will be seeing almost half of its editorial positions slashed by the end of summer. The San Jose Mercury News will be down to 155 editorial employees by the end of the week from a high of around 420. The Merc will have lost about 63% of its editorial staff.

Metro newspapers don’t really excel at anything, and in the era of niche publications, does that model still make sense? The Star-Ledger has found success with a niche publication, Pharmalot. Is that the model for metros to move forward?

John Hassell, the online editor at The Star-Ledger, said that he can envision a future where newspapers are a network of niche blogs like Pharmalot. That future makes more sense to me than the current metro newspaper model.

This all brings us to Today’s Thought: Are the days of the metro newspaper officially numbered?

  • Yes. The days of the big metro as we know it. I suspect the “small” metro will take it’s place, although the shape and content of that is TBD. The layoffs are staggering and I can’t begin to express how happy I am that I decided to leave my South Florida newspaper early last year. I still believe that newspapers need to focus on enterprise and investigative. Do what you do better than anyone else! The breaking news game is played on the web. Period. That is no longer the battle.

  • I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of news startups. I ran out of pity for big metro papers a while ago. It’s time to trade in some of these Cadillacs for hybrids. We need smaller, more numerous outlets with web-first mentalities (who link religiously to each other, building a regional network). Reduce the print version to non-breaking news (e.g. community profiles, features, a back-story on a breaking news item, etc.). Something better needs to rise from newspaper ashes.

  • WhereTheNewsComesFirst

    What a loaded question you’re asking. And all these suggestions that are being put out there are crap — if you want to do real enterprising journalism that serves a community, you need an organization that holds the public’s trust — a reliable place where folks can turn to when there’s something they want to know about. A round-about network of “regional” blogs isn’t the answer to this. They want a powerhouse organization to dish the information out to them (i.e. the big Metro news service). For the nonjournalists who read this site, it takes manpower and money to do real news — hit the shoeleather once in a while and you’ll get a real story.