The Future Of Local Newspapers In ENC

Local newspapers have really been feeling the pinch the last year with a tough economy and so many new forms of media.

Recently, Cox Enterprises announced that three Eastern Carolina newspapers -- the Greenville Daily Reflector, the Rocky Mount Telegram and the Daily Advance in Elizabeth City -- are up for sale.

So what's next for newspapers in Eastern Carolina? WITN talked with newspaper men in Eastern Carolina to find out.

Stuart Savage recently retired from the Greenville Daily Reflector after 50 years. He's been there through hurricanes, fires, community events and much more. Savage has also worked through a time in journalism rich with changes. It's gone from typewriter to computer, fiercer competition with television and the explosion of the internet.

He worked with Al Clark, the executive editor of the Greenville Daily Reflector.

They shared their thoughts about the future of newspaper with WITN.

"One way or another, business goes on," said Clark. "I've always felt that a newspaper is the calling card of a community. Without it, it's hard to fully feel the identity of that place."

The trick now is creating a new identity, one that involves the paper thriving online, but at the same time keeping its core ideals.

"In whatever form we're in, we are going to be providing information that people need that's going to help them live their lives," Clark said.

The newspaper is feeling the impact of something that's been in its pages a lot recently... the economy.

"The problem with newspapers is not the lack of readership -- our circulation is still good -- but the lack of advertising revenue," Savage said.

That lack of revenue includes money lost as many no longer go to the paper for their classified ads. Instead, people go online for free.

But these changes just make men like Savage and Clark push even harder to make sure there's still room for their newspaper.

"We're information gatherers, both you and I," said Clark. "And I think that people demand that information and that business is going to be there, it's going to be up to us to figure out exactly what model we use to convey that information. I'm confident we'll be able to do that."

According to executives at the Daily Reflector, there was a 10 percent reduction in staff in January.

The New Bern Sun Journal and Jacksonville Daily News also saw some slight cuts and furloughs. The papers say they do their best not to cut people, but instead they are launching new formats and designs in order to appeal to a new age actually within the next few days.

The Washington Daily News also has had to make cuts and has even gone from a seven-day paper to printing six days. They have also outsourced their printing to Greenville.

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