Jul 23, 2009

Bad Sign of the Times

Update: See also After 174 years, Ann Arbor News folds.

What the hell is going on with Fond du Lac?

First we read that Mercury Marine might close shop and now comes word the FDL Reporter will close its downtown offices, relocating "all non-production work" [that would be news and sales staff] to a small printing facility on the west side. (Editor and Publisher)

The Reporter, the Gannett Company's 13,207-circulation afternoon daily, is continuing the downbound path of print newspapers the nation-over.

Local news is the bread and butter of all smaller newspapers, and this service appears in peril.

It's not just technological change causing this trend. The recession is killing off newspapers everywhere, clinging to survival through consolidation and other business moves.

Reports Editor and Publisher, "At the same time, printing and packaging will move to the Gannett Wisconsin Media Production Facility in Appleton." There goes a few dozen more jobs of dedicated employees.

One can't help seeing corporate greed driving professional news reporting during these hard times. Gannett’s Quarterly Earnings Fall 60% in April, the New York Times reported.

Greed, maybe that's too strong a word. Maybe not.

Ganett's (CGI) stock is up 48 percent in the last month, and nine percent today. This news likely won't thrill the employees losing their jobs.

On the other hand, if you're a stockholder, you might have been concerned that Gannett isn't making enough money to declare decent dividends and to bolster the meager stock price.


The newsroom at the Reporter as depleted as it is, is still staffed by old-school professionals.

Can't treat this as anything but tragic. It's painful to think of the Reporter's newsroom operating not downtown—yards from the YMCA, City Hall and the Police Department—but rather from Rolling Meadows Drive near the Fond du Lac County airport.

It seems one beautiful city, one community, is beginning to shake at its pillars.

And Fond du Lac epitomizes the United States of America that is heading toward the century's second decade with shaken confidence and growing apprehension.

Those passing 33 West Second Street in Fondy and reading the "The difference is news," on the Reporter building will soon see these words disappear.

Everyone knew this was coming, but maybe not so fast and so harsh.

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