Sunday, November 09, 2008

Read the headline last

So the Saturday PG has top of the fold front page this headline

Jobless Rate at 14 year High

All in a font bigger than I can recreate here of course. Might not have been a Pearl Harbor sized font but still. Ok.. it's true of course. But you have to dig into it quite a ways to get the regional perspective from Stu H. at PNC who says:

Mr. Hoffman expects a jobless rate of 7 to 7.5 percent by mid-2009. He does not believe unemployment in Western Pennsylvania, at 5.4 percent in September, will reach that level. The region has not been affected as much by mortgage foreclosures as the rest of the country and its more stable base of education and health care jobs also provides some insulation, he said.

In fact, if you read PNC's own forecast that is online for the regional economy and literally just completed (so I presume it incorporates most of the recent bad news nationally), it predicts unemployment rate for the Pittsburgh region will average 5.2% for all of 2009. With unemployment at 5.4% in September, that means the region's unemployment rate would have to actually improve from where we are at right now. Further, if national unemployment rate really reaches 7.5% and the local unemployment rate hovers just above 5%, I think that would be a record for how far local unemployment has ever dipped below national levels... certainly the lowest in over 3 decades. That will be big news if it happens... although I wonder how it will all be written up.

I'm just saying... what is the bigger news for a local paper in what Stu is saying and what his shop has put on the record as a prediction. My own two cents for saving local print media is to get past the illusion that there are many left out there getting their core news from the daily paper. Anyone who has watched 5 minutes of TV news gets the headline story about the economy. In fact, you can get a lot more in depth exposition from Stu if you watch CNBC for a few minutes. If you want to be a value to local readers, the only option is to provide the local news that will not be generated by anyone else. There is too much going on and uncovered by local media because resources are strained as they are. Trying to recreate what the national media is obsessing on is more and more a losing proposition every day. and in this particular case, trying to tell the national story all but passes over the on-the-ground local story that will be a bigger impact to local workers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so wise. The only newspapers making money in this country are the dailies and weeklies in burgs of less than 50,000 people. And they make a lot of money--witness the owners of the Pirates, the Nutting family of Wheeling, which controls Ogden Newspapers. Why? Because they intensely focus on the local news that the denizens of those places can't get anywhere else. As such, everyone reads the paper and all local businesses want to advertise in those newspapers to reach those readers.

Newspapers have to change or they will die. The sad fact is that the P-G appears to be cutting local news and features, not building them. And the Tribune Review Publishing Company is no better, cutting many of its local weeklies instead of figuring out how to make money on them. The 75 cents I used to spend a week on the Woodland Hills Progress was the best 75 cents I spent a week. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why they didn't create super-regional weeklies, rather than cancel them all.

Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:57:00 AM  

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