This week’s piece by Margaret Moffett in the Assembly is not so much a takedown of the Greensboro News & Record, Moffett’s former employer, as it is a summation of every bad decision made by corporate, out-of-town owners since 2007, when Landmark Communications executed the first layoff in the paper’s history.
But really it told us what we’ve known all along: Nobody cares about Greensboro, nobody at BH Media, the paper’s former owner, anyway, and nobody at Lee Enterprises, current owners of both the N&R and the Winston-Salem Journal, and certainly not anybody at Alden Capital, which threatens to pare the daily newspaper in the state’s third-largest city down even further if they manage to acquire it.
In reading Moffett’s piece, it becomes evident that no one involved in plotting the demise of the N&R ever once said something like, “But what about the people of Greensboro? Where will they get dependable daily news about their city if not from us?”
Now stripped of perhaps its most valuable asset — 6.5 contiguous acres in the city center, itself plagued by brownfields as we reported last year — nobody with enough capital to do anything about it will touch this paper, excepting those who want to fight over its corpse.
Meanwhile, daily newspapers in Raleigh and Charlotte are actually getting better: increasing their subscription bases, hiring more journalists, tackling more ambitious stories. Axios Local has moved into these markets as well; each has a thriving altweekly — IndyWeek and Queen City Nerve — and a pastiche of other players who help maintain the information safety net so crucial to life in a city.
They’re not coming to save us, for the same reason the last two owners would not invest in our news ecosystem: They don’t think there’s enough money in it.
Can you imagine writing off the third-largest market in the ninth most-populous state in the nation? Well, it’s already happened. And so our only daily newspaper is in a slow death spiral and small, independent papers like ours don’t have enough resources to fill the gaping hole they’ve left.
But we do it anyway, like trying to empty the ocean with plastic buckets. Because somebody needs to report the goddam news around here. And nobody will miss it until it’s gone.
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