These are the worst of times for the traditional, aka mainstream, media, particularly newspapers. The industry is no longer able to find enough advertisers willing to place ads, which is in turn leading to the downfall of these once powerful and proud institutions.
At the same time, those papers still publishing are seeing an almost equal decline of people willing to read what they have to offer.
The result has been the hiving of more and more names from the mastheads of PostMedia publications across the county, including the Windsor Star.
Although PostMedia is the nation’s largest stable of newspapers, in these tumultuous times its size hasn’t protected it from the turmoil of the industry. Fighting back, it has executed continuing rounds of downsizing, which are repeated as revenues persistently vanish.
It is a kind of vicious circle that seems to have no end in sight, and has reached a probable tipping point.
Indicative of this is the reality of the local paper being a shadow of what it once was. All indications are that the Star is on its way to further shrinkage. Up to now, while the cuts have been many, the paper has managed to carry on much like it always has.
That ended on December 10.
The newly appointed Editor-in-Chief, Ellen van Wageningen, penned a page 2 explanation of major changes at the paper.
Those who read the news, a declining audience certainly, read about the end of a robust newspaper. Henceforth the only part of the paper with local news will be its front section.
While its sports pages will offer stories, and not results, these will be intermingled with coverage from elsewhere. All other remaining sections will feature content from other PostMedia sources.
Indeed, for quite some time the paper has interspersed content from reporters from other mastheads. While it has been jettisoning staff, other changes have been happening, including moving some of its operations to other PostMedia facilities. This has include the tasks of formatting the paper.
However, and probably most startling, was the decimation of opinions and reader’s letters. They will now be published only on Friday and Saturday.
This is no small modification.
Although PostMedia is desperate to reduce costs, this alone threatens to remove a considerable degree of the paper’s value in Windsor.
Opinions are what give newspapers their grit. Opinion sections allow editorialists to say things hardly acceptable, because of lack of objectivity. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if done correctly. Take the ability to comment on the day’s issues away and a paper becomes little more than chaff, often in the form of rewritten press releases, with little wheat.
Albeit, there are those who might legitimately argue, and convincingly, about the Star offering an abundance of chaff over the years with its opinions being weak and irrelevant. So, it will be interesting to see if anyone actually notices.