The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

November 4, 2013

Scott Underwood column: Newspapers must serve many masters

A litany of speakers stalked an auditorium stage in the Indiana State Museum. Projected on the screen behind them, a battery of pie charts and bar graphs illustrated their collective message — newspapers must continue to change; the digital revolution is upon us.

The name of the organization sponsoring the convention, The Associated Press Media Editors, symbolizes changes sweeping the industry. For all but the past two years of the organization’s 80-year history, APME stood for Associated Press Managing Editors.

It’s the new age of newspaper, and it’s an exciting time. The tools and platforms at our disposal seem to multiply annually.

At the outset of my career in the 1990s, we had only print to deliver to our readers. Now we have a website, a mobile website, video, online photo galleries, databases, electronic reader forums, e-editions, Twitter, Facebook and other media for engaging the community — and the world.

While print readership has declined in most markets, including ours, the overall reach of newspaper organizations, including ours, has grown. And there’s the potential for accelerated growth. The future may be a little unclear, but it’s bright.

As I left one of the APME convention sessions Tuesday afternoon at the state museum, my spirits were buoyed, particularly, by a resonant assertion of the final speaker — 20-somethings are veracious consumers of news, and they strongly identify with “legacy” products, such as The New York Times on a national scale and newspapers like The Herald Bulletin on a local scale. It’s no surprise that they most often access those products digitally, rather than in print.

Mulling this, I took a short walk outside the museum to breathe in the brisk fall air. When I returned to the building, I was hit by the harsh reality that confronts community newspapers.

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