What We Want Out of News

Yesterday, the two-newspaper town of Seattle sadly realized they too were not immune to the dwindling newspaper market, and like an increasing number of other cities, saw its beloved Seattle Post-Intelligencer fall victim to the downturn.

Beloved? If people aren’t reading them, are print newspapers really so dear to Americans? More and more research shows that newspapers have folded without attention, uproar or fanfare other than a few clinking glasses in somber newsrooms. Readers switch to (or stay with) online versions of newspapers and magazines as if nothing ever changed. One place print newspapers are thriving is in rural areas where people still depend on them to hear about local happenings, events and social news.

As more people get their news from a mix of outlets – perhaps a potion of Twitter, Jon Stewart, Gawker, Facebook and online newspapers – there are some common denominators between those small town newspapers and what the growing majority of Americans want out of the media.

People want to be connected. We want to know about major news, but we also want opinions. We want to know what the celebrities are doing, but also what our friends are doing. Audiences need to feel close to the source of their information, which isn’t so different from why rural communities still cling to their uniting newspapers. The very first newspaper printed in 1690 in the great city of Boston was called "Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick." People wanted to know what was going on.

Somewhere along the way perhaps newspapers got too big, expensive or disconnected from its readers. The Internet and social media has changed the game and for some newspapers, given them a second life. As more and more outlets go online and reach back out to its audience, the media will reinvent itself. We can’t ever go back to the bundle of news on our door step, but I hope we find something that keeps the news… special.

- Contributed by Jen Fauteux.  Follow her @jfauteux