March 18, 2013

Pew | Reuters

The alt-weeklies chapter of Pew’s State of the News Media 2013 report provides daily newspaper publishers with one of their very few opportunities for schadenfreude: At these papers, which regularly take shots at their bigger rivals, circulation is dropping, staffers are losing their jobs and “monetizing the online business remains largely an elusive goal.”

Circulation is falling at many alts. (Click on the chart to view a larger version.)

Smart phones have robbed alt-weeklies of one of their killer features, Jack Shafer writes: Alleviating boredom.

How does a wedge of newsprint compete with an affordable messaging device that ferries games, social media apps, calendars, news, feature films, scores, coupons and a library’s worth of music and reading material? Ask a young person his opinion and he’ll tell you that nothing says “geezer” like a newspaper, be it daily or alt-weekly.

The papers “still break news, publish terrific features, drive the politicians at City Hall nuts, cover the arts smartly, and do well most of the things they did well before the commercial decline,” writers Shafer who, like me, is a former Washington City Paper employee. “They just don’t do as much of it.”

Related: “Even if you never read an issue of the Phoenix…its passing should be seen as no less of a loss to this city” (Boston Herald) | Boston Phoenix to close (Poynter) | How some alt-weeklies are innovating their way out of a crisis (Poynter)

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
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