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A Matter of Life and Death? Examining the Quality of Newspaper Coverage on the Newspaper Crisis
Unformatted Document Text:  5! heavy debt burdens. The Tribune Company, which had taken on $13 billion in debt when it was acquired by Sam Zell, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in December 2008, and by early 2009 several other newspapers—including Philadelphia Newspapers group and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune—had also gone into bankruptcy (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2009b). Moving into 2009, the outlook for newspapers became grimmer: Denver’s Rocky Mountain News shut down, the Tucson Citizen closed, and the Seattle Post- Intelligencer dropped its print version to go online-only (cutting the vast majority of its editorial staff in the process). Concern for the fate of newspapers had reached such a point during spring 2009 that Senator John F. Kerry—in whose home state the mighty Boston Globe was being threatened with closure—convened a Senate panel on the future of journalism, at which he called newspapers an “endangered species” (Miga, 2009). Later in the same year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a workshop “to explore how the Internet has affected journalism” (Federal Trade Commission, 2009), with concern for supporting newspapers through regulatory reform (Kendall & Catan, 2009). By the end of the year, roughly 15,000 employees had lost newspaper jobs (Paper Cuts, 2010), and overall U.S. newsrooms had shrunk by some 27% in three years (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2010b). For many observers and journalists, these events pointed to the imminent “death” of newspapers. Yet, competing arguments exist; for example, the closure of a second newspaper in a local market was a trend that preceded the present “crisis” (Rodgers, Hallock, Gennaria, & Wei, 2004), and such closures actually contributed to newspaper profitability (Picard & Brody, 1997). Because the newspaper crisis is a

Authors: Chyi, H. Iris., Lewis, Seth. and Zheng, Nan.
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5!
 
heavy debt burdens. The Tribune Company, which had taken on $13 billion in debt 
when it was acquired by Sam Zell, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in December 
2008, and by early 2009 several other newspapers—including Philadelphia 
Newspapers group and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune—had also gone into bankruptcy 
(Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2009b). 
Moving into 2009, the outlook for newspapers became grimmer: Denver’s 
Rocky Mountain News shut down, the Tucson Citizen closed, and the Seattle Post-
Intelligencer dropped its print version to go online-only (cutting the vast majority of 
its editorial staff in the process). Concern for the fate of newspapers had reached such 
a point during spring 2009 that Senator John F. Kerry—in whose home state the 
mighty Boston Globe was being threatened with closure—convened a Senate panel 
on the future of journalism, at which he called newspapers an “endangered species” 
(Miga, 2009). Later in the same year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a 
workshop “to explore how the Internet has affected journalism” (Federal Trade 
Commission, 2009), with concern for supporting newspapers through regulatory 
reform (Kendall & Catan, 2009). By the end of the year, roughly 15,000 employees 
had lost newspaper jobs (Paper Cuts, 2010), and overall U.S. newsrooms had shrunk 
by some 27% in three years (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2010b). 
For many observers and journalists, these events pointed to the imminent 
“death” of newspapers. Yet, competing arguments exist; for example, the closure of a 
second newspaper in a local market was a trend that preceded the present “crisis” 
(Rodgers, Hallock, Gennaria, & Wei, 2004), and such closures actually contributed to 
newspaper profitability (Picard & Brody, 1997). Because the newspaper crisis is a 


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