The Future of Charlottesville Print Media

I’m trying something new here—taking a discussion into a real, physical forum. In an event held jointly with Left of Center in one week’s time at Rapture. Here’s the promotional blurb:

News media across the country are collapsing. After recent staff cuts, furloughs and the shutdown of local printing for The Daily Progress, will Media General be doing more downsizing? Can we support four TV stations? Two weeklies? Will blogs replace all of them? What about the partnership between the non-profit Charlottesville Tomorrow and the Daily Progress, being watched nationally as a possible future model for local news?

University of Virginia media studies professor Bruce Williams will give a historical overview of how changing “media regimes” in the U.S. have impacted political communication and civil society, and how the recent “broadcast era” may have been an anomaly in the larger sweep of American history. Then we’ll talk about what the future holds with Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs, Daily Progress assistant city editor Josh Barney, and Hook editor Hawes Spencer.

Free appetizers and socializing (with a cash bar) from 7 to 7:30 p.m precedes a panel discussion and introduction to the issue. Then we open the floor to audience questions. Come join the discussion.

RSVP on Facebook so we’ll know you’re coming (or, if you’re not down with Facebook, you can RSVP here or, hey, just show up). Though it was tempting to include broadcast media, we’ve deliberately focused primarily on print media, in order to prevent the discussion from being too broad and shallow—sorry, broadcast folks. Next time.

Tuesday, January 12, 7:00 PM, Rapture. I hope you’ll come.

10 thoughts on “The Future of Charlottesville Print Media”

  1. For those curious how the speakers were selected, it’s worth writing a few words about that.

    Both Sean and Hawes were easy picks. I’ve been talking with Sean regularly about the future of local media since back in 2005, before he started the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. What with his role at Charlottesville Tomorrow now, it seemed ideal to continue our discussion in front of an audience. Ditto for Hawes—he and I had some long conversations about the future of local media when he started The Hook, and it’s a topic that we’ve revisited occasionally over the years, so I’m eager to continue that discussion, too. (Also, The Hook engages in the unusual practice of basically producing every week’s issue as a sort of a best-of the prior week’s blog entries. I think that merits some discussion.) Finally, it was clear that somebody from the Progress should be there. I think Josh is perfect—he put in plenty of time as a beat reporter, he’s a relative old-timer there, and he’s now an editor, which gives him a more useful perspective than a reporter would have. He’s close to the ground, but high enough up take a broad view. Bruce Williams was an inspired selection by Brevy Cannon, who is helping me put on this forum. Bruce will lay the groundwork for us all to operate from a common vocabulary, giving us the long view of media in the U.S.

    If this goes well, and if it appears to be useful, I can definitely see holding another event or two like this, including other media outlets—C-Ville Weekly comes to mind immediately, of course, as does CBS etc., NBC-29, and WINA. This time I was just going with the people who I knew would probably come if I asked and have something to say on the assigned topic. :)

  2. This market isn’t supporting that many TV stations right now. If it were not for cash infusions from Gray Television the Newsplex wouldn’t be able to pay its bills. Sooner or later corporate is going to get tired of watching all of that money go down the investment drain. The having another news operation pushing them is probably good for NBC29, but the guys at 16/19/27 are on artificial life support. Shame to say.

  3. Without a channel for the dissemination of propaganda, Capital will have difficulty controlling the Proletariat. The last time I checked, The Proles around here were not particularly “Web savvy”. Print-media may die, though I think at least one of the Weeklies could survive thanks to quaint nostalgia, but the Boob-Tube will have to be maintained, at all costs, lest Capital loose its grip on the reigns and we find ourselves on the pointy end of the pitchfork of a class war.

  4. Rey Barry, prog reporter and columnist from the 60s, asked me to say he’s coming. (Free eats.)

  5. The last time I checked, The Proles around here were not particularly “Web savvy”. Print-media may die, though I think at least one of the Weeklies could survive thanks to quaint nostalgia,

    See the problem is this – most of “the Proles” can’t afford to live in Town. And those that live in the county (albemarle or others)- gave up on internet because they got sick of dial up and don’t have access to affordable high speed internet.

    The weeklies should have no problems surviving. I think it’s easier to to a better job covering a story when you don’t have to go to press every day. And the weeklies have done a better job doing stories that ask the uncomfortable/unpopular questions that the “get along go along” crowd would prefer were ignored.

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