A recent news report indicated that Yahoo is experiencing significant decreases in the time users spend on its sites. The directors of the company were even reported to be considering the sale of parts of the
company. The reporter concluded that Yahoo was no longer relevant as many internet users are not using Yahoo or any of its products.
Whether you believe that Yahoo is relevant to you or not, it is interesting to observe such a negative public discussion about a company that just 15 years ago could do no wrong. Many believed that Yahoo had a better future than this newspaper. There was the expectation that Yahoo, Microsoft and others would create local online communities where people could find the latest news and information. In case you haven't noticed, they weren't successful in their attempts to provide local news. In fact, it is
likely that any news you find on Yahoo, Google and other sites was probably produced by a newspaper or a newspaper‐affiliated organization.
But that doesn't mean that the way people get their news isn't changing, because it is. Newspapers are still the number one source for local news, with more reporters than most any other organization in most cities in America. But what a self‐deprecating group we are. We openly write about our own problems on the front pages, but it seems like we minimize our gains. To our detriment, we've made public the fact that circulation has dropped at many newspapers, yet rarely do we write about the fact that just as many people are consuming the information we produce, although now it is in print AND online. And things will continue to change. We expect that more readers in the future will be reading our stories on their iPad or other tablet and on their smart phones.
The next time you attend a local festival, football game, city council meeting, or just about any other local event, look around and you probably won't find a reporter with a Yahoo, Microsoft of Google press pass. But what you will see are reporters from your local newspaper. But, as a newspaper reader, you probably figured that out already, and it is certainly time to say thank you for reading this newspaper and making us your number one source for local news!
H. Dean Ridings is chairman for National Newspaper Week 2011, and is president and CEO for the Florida Press Association.