I’ve seen an empty newsstand like this many a time, but never because The Times didn’t produce a paper to put in it, as is the case now.
It would be hypocritical of me to complain too much since I’ve been an on-again off-again subscriber for years, and am currently off-again. If the reason they went from seven days a week to three days a week is dropped subscriptions, I helped contribute to their problem.
But it’s more than just declining print subscriptions, and it’s not exclusive to Huntsville. It’s the current state of print journalism.
When the change was announced earlier this year, I didn’t know I felt about it (see my post from back then, The Latest News). I still don’t, not completely. But a few thoughts I do have:
On the one hand it’s sad, especially for those who love print. A lot of my feelings toward printed newspapers has to do with nostalgia — things like memories of ink-stained hands after a Sunday afternoon of flipping through the entire volume and being enthralled with the content I had found. I fell in love with newspapers at a very young age and even though I no longer partake of them the way I used to, the memories are fond.
Times have changed. Technology has changed. People and industry have both been drivers of that change, as well as victims of it.
Personally, I’m just not convinced that papers have to respond by making themselves less relevant. Instead of printing less often and forcing people to go online or to other news sources, papers should make themselves more relevant by doing what only newspapers can do, especially what only a local paper can do. Being relevant in the digital realm is important too. I just don’t see why it has to be one or the other.
But, hey, they didn’t ask me, and what’s done is done. Guess we’ll just wait and see how it plays out.
I was just 16 years old when the Huntsville News printed its last edition, pictured above. But I already had a healthy appreciation of newspapers and a small inkling to want to write for one someday.
The Huntsville News was the morning paper, and The Huntsville Times was the afternoon paper.
It’s hard to believe that this city used to support two newspapers.
But that was before the Internet. Everyone likes to blame the Internet for the downfall of newspapers right?
I don’t know what I think about the Times (and other major newspapers in Alabama) downsizing to three days a week and the huge swathe of layoffs. I’m kinda shocked. The slow demise of newspapers as we know it isn’t anything new, but I never thought I’d see the largest papers in my state make such a move. I’m tempted to call it a stupid move because I don’t think it will work, but then I’m not sure what they’re trying to accomplish. If they’re trying to slowly kill the print edition and shift to online only, then it just might work. If they’re trying to salvage the print edition, making it less relevant by publishing less often and forcing people to go online for news — that doesn’t seem like a good strategy.
Of course, aside from saving the institution as a whole is the impact to the content available. Half of the Huntsville Times newsroom was cut. Half?? What kind of content will we even have Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, or daily online?
I just never thought that someday my last edition of the News might be joined by a last edition of the Times. At least not in my lifetime or on my watch. Now, I’m not so sure.