Let's face it, print news is in trouble. The printing press revolutionized the way we disseminate information, and electronic media has caused another paradigm shift. The Arizona Daily Star (ADS) is all we have left for daily print content, and we have had many criticisms of it in the last four months, coming to a head around the time of the Tax March.
The 25,000 square foot Arizona Daily Star building was once home to around 1,100 jobs and now houses only around 250 people. The hallways echo and the labyrinthine corridors snake around in silence. The dark crater of the former Citizen lies dark and unused, and the monster printing press never gets to execute its awesome full potential.
The Arizona Daily Star is anemic, with much of its content outsourced to the AP and Reuters. The truly local content tends to be lighter pieces and not "deep dives" that have become the hallmark of more successful print publications such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker.
So what is it that has subscription rates up for some publications and down for others? Well, I'm sure everyone thinks they know, but here is my opinion.
I own a small, open-forum newspaper that has been in print since 1983. We have extremely loyal readership and advertisers, and could probably get bigger if I had the time. The thing that makes us so successful is that we publish local, community content that is 100% unique. It isn't something that you can just go get off of CNN or other news service.
Often, when I open up the Star, I see content I can just get off of my cell phone. It really isn't the journalists' fault, or many of the staff at the Star but it does reek of a corporation winnowing down talent in order to turn a profit.
No, I don't like the lack of coverage the ADS treats Indivisible, RepresentMeAZ and McSally Take A Stand to. And no, I also don't like the light pieces they gift to Martha McSally. I feel like the Arizona Republic in Phoenix does a deeper dive on CD2 issues, and the ADS never even mentioned the leaked audio while pretty much every news outlet including CSS, politico, and New York Magazine did. There is still more on that audio tape that could be pulled out, and yet the ADS hasn't bothered to do so (or doesn't have the resources).
Finally, the ADS seems to be a newspaper that would represent a center, center-right city better than decidedly left leaning Tucson. It is rumored that the Heads at the ADS wanted to endorse TRUMP. A Tucson newspaper endorsing Trump. Do they even know their readership?
The Arizona Daily Star need to:
-Provide content that cannot just be scooped up on someone's bathroom break on their smartphone:
-Expanded opinion section (I actually think Sarah is doing this...kudos!
-"Deep diving" reporting, which means investments into personnel to give them the time and resources to do this. Don't just tell me that the A-10 is going to lose 3 squadrons. Interview some people. Find out that McSally has been bragging to people that she saved the A-10 by manipulating Donald Trump three days before the cuts were announced. Cover the fact that a grassroots Super PAC, rarer than a blue moon, has been started up in Tucson.
-Provide more local content. For national news, I can look on my smartphone.
-Provide fair and balanced coverage, but cover more stuff. The bar for covering an event seems to be sky high. The Tax March had 700-800 attendees, and apparently that was not enough to warrant a story. OK, but how about why there was even a Tax March to begin with? Put an intern or student on the job and get out there to do some interviews. Interview counter protesters. Pro-Trump rallies. Do you see where I am going with this? Cover what is happening in the community. The ADS is a local paper, and not The Atlantic. Nor will it ever be The Atlantic.
I want everyone to continue to support our local print publications as well as our digital ones. But I think we need to put some pressure on the ADS to cover things in more depth. I am not even necessarily looking for coverage of only us. But deeper coverage (and, yeah...us too!).