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In circ: Should newspapers get a piece of the bailout pie?

It looks like some sort of bailout is set to fall, like manna from the heavens, upon the auto industry. I hope this means they can afford to buy more print ads in the future. Lord knows the newspaper industry could use the cash.

I don’t like to predict the demise of an industry. For one, I think it’s silly; the strong will flourish, somehow. Secondly, I just plain like newspapers. Without them, I would have nothing to read on Sundays, nor would I have a whole lot to write about during the week.

However, with a tough year coming to a close and the news of Tribune Co.’s bankruptcy filing, I must ask aloud, “Will anyone look after the papers? And who?”

Not Congress. A cars- and banks-style bailout is simply not in the cards, and, as I said above, I think the really smart businesses will be able to get through this mess without it.

Will the reading public take action? A history-making election year, combined with the ongoing financial crisis has piqued readers’ interest in substantive journalism. It’s a good sign for the print business, but, so far, it hasn’t been quite good enough to get the newspapers out of the worry zone. People value papers, but they also value their time and money. The real issue here is to make readers aware that the daily paper is worth the change they would spend on a latte and the time they would spend on a nap or an outing.

This brings us to the newspapers themselves. It is up to them — their marketing and ad sales departments, their writers, their publishers — to convince the market to take them back. They need to reposition themselves as something newly valuable for both readers and advertisers, and I think that, with the right management, they can (take note, GM).

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