Rural Blog: AP uses paper GateHouse closed as example of troubles of local journalism, but says ‘This isn’t a hopeless story’

by Al Cross

A former publisher said GateHouse “set the Daily Guide up to fail,” but another ex-publisher and the paper’s last editor “blame both GateHouse and the community for not supporting the paper. . . . Critics have said GateHouse and some other newspaper companies follow a strategy of aggressive cost-cutting without making significant investments in newsrooms. GateHouse rejects the notion that their motivations are strictly financial, pointing to measures taken in Waynesville and elsewhere to keep news flowing.”

Generally, newspaper closures and mergers can be blamed on “revenue siphoned by online competition, cost-cutting ownership, a death spiral in quality, sheer disinterest among readers or reasons peculiar to given locales for that development,” Bauder and Lieb write. “While national outlets worry about a president who calls the press an enemy of the people, many Americans no longer have someone watching the city council for them, chronicling the soccer exploits of their children or reporting on the kindly neighbor who died of cancer.”

“Losing a newspaper is like losing the heartbeat of a town,” Waynesville banker Keith Pritchard told AP, which reports, “The bank routinely checked the Daily Guide’s obituaries to protect against fraud; Pritchard said you’d be surprised by family members who try to clean out the accounts of a recently-deceased relative.”

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