Adieu, Ann Arbor

When I was reporting my last series of stories for the Naples Daily News before heading off to get my master’s degree at the University of Alabama, I was put on a plane to Ann Arbor, Mich., to report on the closing of Ave Maria’s Law School.

I fell in love.

The city is green and beautiful, filled with rolling hills, pathways, lakes and one of the coolest, most unique downtowns I’ve ever seen. And of course, the University of Michigan is no slouch of a school (unless they’re facing Appalachian State!).

After picking up daily copies of the Ann Arbor News, I was sure I’d found my new dream home. I’d graduate from Alabama, and my husband and I would get great jobs at the newspaper with a cool adjunct teaching gig on the side.

Alas, those dreams were dashed today as the Ann Arbor News put out its final paper.

From the AP

From the AP

This is yet another in a string of good newspaper substantially reducing staff and heading online only. (The brand new AnnArbor.com will launch tomorrow.)

Laurel Champion, the now-former publisher of The News, uttered the harsh truth: “Putting out a daily print newspaper in this market is not a sustainable business.”

As I sat here attempting to wade through what must be a 40- or 50-inch story on the computer, I experienced a quick run-through of the stages of grief.

Denial: No, this cannot be the end of print journalism; the end of the long investigative piece; the end of long, lazy mornings in bed sifting through a bulging paper. SOMEONE will put a stop to this madness. It can’t be too late!

Anger: How lazy is our society that we have allowed this to happen? What is wrong with my generation? Are we too busy and self-absorbed to care about what is going on in the world?

Bargaining: Can’t we just have a little more time? My parents and grandparents got to grow old with the newspaper. Why can’t it be the same for me?

Depression: It’s the beginning of the end of intelligent society. Soon we will have corrupt officials running amok, those in need of justice denied and a generation of ill-informed idiots running the country.

Acceptance: Journalism will survive. Different doesn’t mean dead. We need the news, and we’ll make it through, even when all the printing presses are put to bed.

It’ll be okay.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Adieu, Ann Arbor

  1. Melissa G

    Hey Jen! I love reading your posts and find the subject quite interesting. But, I have a confession -I have never commited to reading the daily newspaper. I remember my dad reading the newspaper every day. Even if times were rough, we always had a subscription to the local newspaper. Why did I never pick up this habit? I wonder what happened to our generation. What changed? Are we lazy and apathetic?

    Upon reading your blog and listening to stories on NPR and other news outlets, I became upset at the idea of losing the daily newspaper. Then I wonder, why am I upset when I am contributing to their demise?

    I think I have begun to realize something that you have touched on in your blog. After the creation of the internet, it is much easier to seek out news, blogs, discussion boards, ect… that are geared toward your own beliefs and interests. I have noticed that people in our generation tend to migrate towards media that focuses on what they already believe and are increasing unwilling to read or listen to the opposing argument. There is a cultural shift where people are banding together with others who have the same belief structure as themselves.

    I hope that we will wake up and realize we need journalists to keep us informed and provide honest news rather than “commentary” from tv and radio personalities. You have inspired me to pick up a newspaper this weekend. Sunday morning with coffee and a paper sounds good to me. I will let you know how it goes!

    • 78picas

      Great thoughts, Melissa! Thanks for your comment! AND, thanks for picking up a newspaper! Everyone in my field thanks you, too!

      Yes, newspapers are in trouble, but I’m not sure it’s because of our generation. Studies have shown that newspaper readership among our age group isn’t too far off from what it has always been over the years. People don’t tend to read newspapers until they’re older or until they start their families.

      That being said, the Internet is definitely going to (and already has) change the way we get news and the way we produce news. There are advantages and disadvantages for both. The thing that newspaper need to do (and are historically bad at doing) is innovate. We can’t just stay as we are and hope to survive.

      I really think the industry will find its way. I agree with Jane Singer (whose article about the future of newspapers I posted a few weeks ago). I think there will still be some sort of “legacy product” (a print product), but it will differ dramatically from what we think of as a newspaper today. My guess: local, community content in a tabloid format and wider spread news (news affecting the whole city or town) will be exclusively online.

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