Most of today’s reporters rely on prepared press releases, sound bites and telephone interviews. It’s not that they’re lazy, or liars; they’re just floundering in a sea of uncertainty and work.
With cutbacks in staff and hours, forced unpaid furlough days and watching one after another of their peers laid off after years of award-winning hard work, reporters are just trying to get through the day.
Except for a few who are given large blocks of time, resources, and of course money (like Dateline and Good Morning America) most reporters are doing the job of three or four people in their newsrooms, as compared to five years ago.
People blame the Internet. Well, having worked 38 years in newspaper and magazines newsrooms, I can tell you it is not entirely the Internet’s fault that print (and now even television media) are fast going out of style.
You know who’s making it? Small newspapers and magazine-style publications across America giving their “neighbors” the news and information nobody else can. If the big-time daily newspapers had adapted to niche publications 10 years ago, the shutdowns, layoffs and demotions in the industry never would have occurred.

The very manner in which material is categorized in libraries (on line and off) should tell the decision-makers at these publications what the public needs and wants.
After voluntarily leaving a full-time job at large newspaper chain I began to see that there is so much freelance work out here you can bid on, you can take as many jobs as you can handle if you know where to go to find them.

The publications that have just laid off people across the country from California to Connecticut are starving for copy to fill enough holes to keep them open. They know they’ve made the wrong decisions these last 10 years, but then, with the global economy going the way it is now, so has just about everybody else.
It isn’t too late to rescue these pubs though, if the big-wigs would get out of their ivory towers long enough to listen to the few reporters still on a beat.

The public wants real news. People don’t want commentators telling them how (or what) to think. They don’t want phony “news” that’s really a business ad in disguise. And for goodness sake, the major media needs to stop neglecting the real stories (just when is the world going to make its complete turn on its axis- and what else has NASA found out from space?) and making everything about celebrities. Real people aren’t going to pick up the papers anymore if all they see are movie icons like Liz Taylor and Annette Funicello and Farrah Fawcett publicly wasting away.

Small,localized pubs that tell you what’s going on in your neighborhood, what the schools, churches, civic organizations and clubs in your area are up to and how you can join them if you are so inclined are still being read; selling advertising; and adding pages.

Get with the program, major media. Your market is still out here, but it’s changed drastically and you aren’t changing with it. Daily newspapers think they can put up a Web site and automatically translate their print readers- and advertisers- to the virtual world. They just don’t get it.

There’s a print market out here, and it’s literally starving for articles that mean something to its readers. People in Anytown USA don’t want to know about Brad and Jen or Angela. They’re busy. They want to know what time their son or daughter’s ball game starts and see photographs of the Community Theater play they just missed.
I wrote my latest book, "Soft News," while still working for a major media company shortly after reading the infamous business guide, “Who Moved my Cheese.” I knew it was time to find new cheese. I knew in my heart the cheese was out there somewhere. And that, my friends, is what it takes to keep print (and television) reporting alive in this brand new age.

* "Soft News" and other books are available on my Web site,, and at Amazon, B&N and Target on line. Meanwhile, I will be continuing my free “fiction writing lessons” with next week’s post. Last week I gave the overview of the course “Creative Yarnspinning” that I give on line to authors and at a local college. It’s a freebie, so be sure and look for its continuing posts. And meanwhile, if you want to check out some of my local work in Tampa Bay, just visit Support your local publications. They’re your future.
Ciao for now!

Author's Bio: 

Penny Fletcher is a freelance writer, editor and coach based in Tampa Bay.