The News Hole

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					                                                                                                                          EDITORIAL




    Searcher’s Voice
                                      The News Hole
                                       n newspaper parlance, the term      greensheet, give-away weekly. Better than nothing,
                                        I
                                       “news hole” refers to the amount
                                     of space in an issue devoted to
                                                                           but … well. Now large cities, as well as small
                                                                           communities, may face an absence of local news.
                                     news content, as opposed to               Time to step up, info pros! You serve your
                                     advertisements, for example.          community through library websites. Those
                                     Fearless editors fight tooth and      websites should include a news service that keeps
                    nail to keep that space as broad as possible           people informed on activities in and around the
                    for the copy their heroic and brilliant reporters      community. Much, if not most, of the news might
                    bring, panting, to the news desks. At least,           only need online gathering and winnowing. Local
                    that’s what every movie I’ve ever seen set             government announcements on dot-gov sites
                    in a newspaper operation shows.                        could become regular feeds. If you still have
                        These days, the term could apply to the            a local newspaper, then directing people to it
                    “hole” or chasm, into which newspapers are             through headline feeds could help to swell both
                    falling, never to be heard from again, like            the library’s and the newspaper’s web analytics
                    Denver’s Rocky Mountain News; others teeter            stats. Local bloggers and “citizen-journalists” could
                    on the rim, like the San Francisco Chronicle. The      provide another feed, possibly tagged with a
                    challenge to newspapers from steadily eroding          caveat for opinion-laden submissions. You might
                    print circulation and plummeting advertising           also add feeds from Google News and/or Yahoo!
                    revenues left many clinging to the hope that their     News, just to make sure that people know what
                    online websites might pick up the slack. But the       the outside world is saying about them. Hmm.
                    economic turmoil in which we all find ourselves        In fact, you might also append a feed from the
                    has left that hope even more fragile than before.      databases you license for library use, assuming you
                        Ironically, more people are reading newspapers     have a contract clause that allows access via
                    these days and younger readers, the ones without       a library card authentication.
                    a newspaper reading habit who have almost been             And how, I can hear you ask, am I going to
                    written off as a lost cause for subscribership, have   fund or staff this extra effort ITTT (aka In These
                    begun turning to traditional news outlets. Well,       Tough Times)? Well, for one thing, you might try
                    let me correct that statement — traditional news       local advertising. I was talking to a friend the other
                    sources, but not traditional news formats. Online      day about the collapsing newspaper field. The
                    or bust! And the latest statistics show that even      thing she missed most from the lack of newspapers
                    people who have the habit of reading print             — and this surprised me coming from a news
                    have begun turning to online. The current              junkie like her — was the advertisements,
                    belt-tightening underway by even the comfortable       particularly those announcing special sales or
                    could make a print subscription seem a needless        discounts. Just that week, she had driven by a
                    indulgence when the same content awaits for free       favorite craft supplies store and seen a 50% off
                    on a convenient website.                               placard in the window. Of course, the one-day sale
                        But let’s get back to the real problem — the       was almost over and all the good stuff probably
                    elimination of community news sources. My own          gone, so she didn’t even stop. How are local
                    relatively upper-middle income community hasn’t        merchants supposed to get the news out of what
                    had a daily newspaper for decades. Nor has The Los     they have to offer these days? I’m sure there are
                    Angeles Times, the nearest major city newspaper,       web advertising options, but locals need to put
                    picked up the slack. For local news, we rely on a                                             continued on page 6



4   SEARCHER ■ The Magazine for Database Professionals
                                                                                                          EDITORIAL
                                                                                                                                            The Magazine for Database Professionals


                                                                                                                                  Vice President, Content
                                                                                                                                  Richard Kaser
                                                                                                                                  Editor-in-Chief
their announcements where locals will see          
				
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posted:6/11/2010
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Description: Librarians may need some help to get the show on the road, but that help may be available. When newspapers go down, so do their libraries. There's a lot of talent out there these days, talent that could be tapped to teach staff, to research sources, to design website templates, etc. And, of course, that talent wouldn't need to be entirely local; it could be networked online with webinars and telecommuting.
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