Geneva Overholser, former Washington Post ombudsman and former editor of the Des Moines Register, is participating in a discussion on the New York Times Web site about how to save newspapers. Part of the solution, she says, involves the following:
I wish that newspaper leaders would step back from making indiscriminate staff and news-hole cuts and rethink their focus. First, look around the community to see who is doing good information-gathering and sharing. New Web-only publications may be covering various parts of the community. A consortium of arts organizations may have a reliable events calendar. Television or radio stations may have continued some substantial elements of government news coverage. An alternative weekly may have good reviews of films and theater and concerts. Bloggers may be assembling information from parents at various levels of the local school system and a nonprofit group may be gathering well-researched local health information.
Not sure exactly what Overholser is proposing here. Is she advocating a partnership between the local daily and a bunch of local outlets? I guess I’m wondering how this “model” would work. She suggests, for instance, that the alt weekly may be doing a good job of arts criticism (though, presumably, not of local politics and crime; daily types have always looked down on the Washington City Papers and Seven Days of this world).
Does that mean that the daily should work out an arrangement with the alt weekly to share such content? Is that a way to avoid “indiscriminate staff and news-hole cuts”?
Given the state of the news biz, I suppose that once-unthinkable partnerships and alliances and MOs must get some serious consideration. But if something like this goes down, let’s just take the “alt” out of the alt weekly.