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Why should we care about the decline of newspapers in Michigan?

Oct 23, 2014

Credit T. Voekler

 

The latest circulation figures for the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press are out. Where once the Detroit News and Free Press boasted sales of over 600,000 copies a day, the Free Press now has fewer than 200,000 subscribers and the News fewer than 100,000.

Bill Thomas joined Stateside. His journalism career began in 1967. Before he retired in early 2012, Thomas had been executive editor of the Oakland Press, the publisher and editor of The Macomb Daily and the editor of the Traverse City Record-Eagle. He thinks the problems stem from corporate greed rather than newspapers themselves.

"We've moved away from being stewards of public trust to just pocketing a bunch of cash and making corporate executives wealthy. When reader patterns are changing, rather than investing in technologies and looking down the road, the corporations just continue to rake in the money," says Thomas.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry was the national editor for the Detroit News 30 years ago, and he teaches journalism at Wayne State University. Lessenberry says the latest circulation figures say something about how well informed people of Michigan and metro Detroit are. Lessenberry adds newspapers are by far the major producers of news content, which is still the source of most online news aggregators like Google. Lessenberry believes a lack of news, national or local, is a dangerous thing for democracy.

* Listen to our conversation with Jack Lessenberry and Bill Thomas above.