On Sunday, Sept. 30, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans' largest newspaper, published its final issue as a daily. While The Times-Picayune lives on in print three days per week, what was once one of America's great dailies is now a mere shell of its former self.
Of course, a similar thing is happening to our own daily newspaper. The Arizona Daily Star is still published on dead-tree every day—and I think that will continue for a while, thankfully—but it's not the publication it used to be, and the future is not looking all that rosy.
At the Arizona Newspaper Association's awards banquet a couple of weeks ago, I found the representation of the Star to be telling: Teri Hayt, the managing editor, was one of the few representatives of the Star who was present, and many of the awards she walked up to accept were for scribes like Rob O'Dell and Josh Brodesky.
O'Dell and Brodesky—at one point, arguably the Star's two highest-profile writers outside of the sports section—have left in recent months for The Arizona Republic. And Hayt is on her way out, too, heading off to Ohio to work for another newspaper group.
So, in other words, a soon-to-depart editor was picking up awards by reporters who had already left.
I've sat in the Tucson Weekly editor's seat for almost a decade now, and I've noted that as the years pass, more and more people are clamoring for our attention, in part because other big media sources around town have died (R.I.P., Tucson Citizen) or have been substantially weakened (hello, Star). But we can only do so much.
Days are dark in the daily-journalism world circa 2012. And I fear it's going to keep getting darker.