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US Newspapers Admit They're in a Heap of Trouble


Journalism's graying alpha lion, the daily newspaper, once master of all it surveyed, still roars and struts. But it's hurting. People's growing preference for news on television was the first painful thorn in the paw of old-time, mass-circulation, highly profitable newspapers. Now there are a thousand thorns, including specialized formats on radio and cable TV and in niche magazines, all of which are luring away advertisers. So are glitzy online Web sites and attention-grabbing Web logs, or blogs.

General-interest newspapers take time to read. It's fun to scan them for rich background and the sheer surprise of discovering new things about our communities and our world. But increasingly impatient Americans are turning to other media that can more effectively home in on their interests, from politics to gardening to sports.

No wonder newspaper executives are always off at retreats, trying to figure out how to hold onto their readers and advertisers.

In the face of reduced income, they're slashing payroll, hiring trendy writers to appeal to younger readers, and putting their reporters and columnists on TV and radio to cross-promote their newspaper work. And they're assigning more staff to Internet jobs in what they call their "online newsrooms," since Web sites have become an important face of the paper.

One of America's biggest newspaper publishers, the Gannett Company, has even decided to work so-called "citizen journalists" into its newspaper pages. They will join seasoned reporters in covering and analyzing the news of the day.

In short, the once-regal daily newspaper is struggling to define -- and compete in the fast-changing world of -- what is sometimes called the "new journalism." .

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