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The Democracy Papers

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. The Democracy Papers explores how to preserve professional journalism in the face of technology transformation and changing economic pressures. Though the project focuses mostly on newspapers, the essays and opinions touch on the range of challenges facing the press.

June 26, 2009 at 4:18 PM

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Ann Arbor, America's first no newspaper town

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Ann Arbor will become the nation's first city to lose its daily newspaper next month when the Ann Arbor News ceases publication. Advance, which also owns Portland's Oregonian, is replacing the newspaper with an online news site called AnnArbor.com. This will be not be The News online. AnnArbor.com will not retain staff from The News unless they apply for jobs at the Web site.

No doubt, this is a bold experiment. One I plan on tracking. Rick Edmonds from Poynter has an interesting take on the demise of The News and the rise of AnnArbor.com. He points out that Ann Arbor's seemingly desirable demographics might have worked against the newspaper. He points out that newspapers in other cities with similar populations have struggling newspapers. You guessed it, he mentions Seattle. He cites reporting in other publications that suggests a young, literate, tech savvy city might not be the best market for traditional newspapers.

This demographic has not been a hindrance in Seattle. We reach about 70 percent of adults in King and Snohomish counties. The trick is to hold onto that number through the recession. If we can we should be in a good position once advertising, especially local advertising, comes back with the economy.

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