Saturday, March 22, 2008

Regional as Glocal

A blogger dismisses Richard Longworth as an "old newspaperman" clinging to a newspaper ideal no longer suited to the current media market. The issue is Longworth's pitch for a regional publication covering global economics from the Midwestern perspective. The crux of the critique:

In this world, CNN, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post will be among the leaders in the global information market. Local newspapers ... at least those who have already established themselves as a "local source" and understand the transition to new media ... will take the lead in the local news markets.

Unfortunately, Mr. Longworth, in this world there will be no room for "regional newspapers," and their only choice will be to focus on being the local news leaders.

This doesn't mean they still cannot do great analytical journalism, bringing global issues to the local level. It does mean, however, that no matter how big or small, a newspaper can no longer be all things to all people.

Perhaps this rebuttal to Longworth's suggestion makes sense to media wonks, but the use of geographic scales is confused. A regional economic newspaper is not a local source trying to "be all things to all people." Longworth sees an opportunity for a publication to sit between your daily local and the "global information market." I think Longworth is right and I'll provide an example of the niche that could be filled.

About two months ago, "locals" upbraided a Financial Times reporter for typecasting Erie, PA. While the Erie Times-News won't be noticed for excellence in international reporting any time soon, global and national coverage will still struggle to get the hometown story right. What's missing from the overall picture is a useful piece concerning the relationship between any Rust Belt shrinking city and globalization.

Ramit Plushnick-Masti, a reporter for the Associated Press, writes the kind of stories I have in mind. But Plushnick-Masti's beat, she is based in Pittsburgh, is still too small. And the global media is not intimate enough with the regional geography to capture local travails with globalization. Instead, we continue to get stock stereotyping (The Economist being a notable exception). Furthermore, decent coverage is likely to be too sporadic to engage a more serious and dedicated readership.

Longworth's goal is to facilitate a regional knowledge exchange about dealing with globalization. The geographic scope of the newspaper would be unique, neither a local nor a global outlet. Claiming that local papers can't do everything completely misses these points. If anyone needs to get with the times, it is Richard Klicki.

1 comment:

Tom Christoffel said...

A link to this post will be in the March 26, 2008 issue of Regional Community Development News. It will be on-line March 27 at Please visit, check the tools and consider a link. Tom