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Newspapers were right

on future of free news

The word from the National Newspaper Association (NNA) is that Patch Media, the AOL-backed website company attempting to be the go-to place for local news in thousands of small communities, will soon be dismantled and sold because it is losing money.

 

Started in 2007, Patch was meant to be the next big thing in local news coverage. They were hiring hundreds of journalists while traditional media, mostly large daily newspapers, were laying off their reporters by the thousands.

 

Reed Anfinson, publisher of the Swift County Monitor-News in Benson, Minn., wrote recently that AOL invested as much as $300 million in creating the Patch websites and keeping them running — until investors tired of the heavy financial losses.

 

Newspaper publishers told Patch?Media representatives from the start that free online news content wouldn’t work — that free doesn’t pay the bills. Newspapers had already been in the game for years and publishers knew that digital revenues alone couldn’t sustain a quality news-gathering agency.

 

“We said that you couldn’t sell advertising for pennies and expect to fund a news operation,” wrote Anfinson.

 

Fortunately for small towns across this nation, there is one source for community news that still does a good job and will be around for the foreseeable future — the local newspaper. It’s the one entity that still has the experience, the integrity and the resources to accurately cover local government and community news.

 

And unlike big-company websites or scattered blogs and Facebook pages, the local newspaper pulls the community together with a common purpose — helping readers be well-informed citizens, better voters and, in some cases, civic-minded volunteers.

 

This award-winning newspaper doesn’t give away its content for free online because that model can’t sustain a quality staff of professional journalists and photographers. Newspapers continue to be the main source of news in America, including news gathered for on-line distribution.

Vilas has made changes

to save taxpayer dollars

The Vilas County Board of Supervisors has come a long way in recent years, cutting expenses and improving operational efficiency to meet state revenue limits with diminished use of undesignated cash reserves, often referred to as equity surplus.

 

Supervisors understand more than ever that the old practice of buying down the levy is a short-term fix that actually complicates the problem. As County Clerk David Alleman pointed out in a story this week, that system delayed important cost-cutting decisions, created a structural deficit and lowered the county’s capacity to raise future tax levies.

 

We commend supervisors for doing a better job in recent years with a voluntary workforce reduction system, modified time-off pay, debt restructuring and other efficiencies that are saving taxpayers money.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

 

Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1:13 PM
 

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