Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From Trucks to Vans

For over a hundred years, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News delivered a comprehensive daily newspaper across the state of Michigan. Every morning, the huge trucks rumbled across Michigan's crumbling roadways delivering bundles of wrapped newspapers to area stores, news stands, restaurants, news boxes and people's doorsteps. A dozen standard sized panel vans now deliver regionally to a few lonely news boxes what a fleet of semi-trucks used to ship statewide.

It's not a sign of lean times as much as a sign of the break-neck speed at which information technology has advanced into every home. It's not just "The News" and "The Freep" either. In WI-FI cafes across the nation, news still accompanies breakfast and coffee. But, the news, like Starbucks, comes in many flavors from many hemispheres.

Today's newspapers are delivered through cable lines or a wireless cloud, easily condensed into a PC, a laptop, or one's pocket-sized hand held device. Today's bulky print newspapers are so...yesterday. Trees are being spared but jobs are being pared down because the "news" is ever-changing. Getting the news online is just too easy. Getting a real newspaper involves effort and resources above & beyond the monthly expense of an Internet connection.

The storm clouds have been forming on the printing and publishing industry's horizon for years as desktop computers deliver digitally correctable color proofs that used to take a legion of employees hours upon hours to put together by hand. As the Internet took hold in American life, the Detroit News and 'Freep' ran television ads locally featuring the CEO of Detroit Media Partnership and Free Press Publisher David Hunke, telling television viewers and newspaper readers alike to: "go to the website".

Hunke's suggestion; while great advice for the readers, was fatal for his own newspaper.

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