By Mark Neikirk, Northern Kentucky University
Newspapers have long been counted on – locally and nationally – to deliver the reliable, timely information any democracy requires. What happens if it all goes away? Dr. Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, who teaches economics and public affairs at Princeton University, is doing research bout this very question and is finding a direct link between civic activity and a vibrant media.
Much of his work is based on the impact of the closing of The Cincinnati Post, where I was managing editor. After his research was published, I called Dr. Schulhofer-Wohl to discuss what he found – and invited him to Northern Kentucky University, where I now work at the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, to tell our community about his research.
He’ll be here on March 4th at 7 p.m. to participate is public forum, “News in the Information Age: What happens to democracy if the presses stop?”
After summarizing his findings, Dr. Schulhofer-Wohl will join a panel, including a media company CEO (Rich Boehne of the E.W. Scripps Company, which owned The Post); a daily newspaper newsroom manager (Dennis Hetzel who oversees the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Kentucky edition); a weekly newspaper owner/publisher (M. E. Sprengelmeyer of the Guadalupe County Communicator in New Mexico; he previously covered national affairs in Washington for the Rocky Mountain News, which was shuttered last year); and a New York Times reporter who has covered the media during this time of immense change (Jacques Steinberg).
There’s a fine old saying: If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevancy even less. Although our panelists have a foot in the old media world, they have another firmly planted in new media. Mr. Boehne’s daily challenge is to find ways his publicly traded company can assure investors a return, something he believes cannot be done solely with ink and paper. Mr. Sprengelmeyer is openly experimenting with a community journalism model he hopes to export to a metropolitan market one day. Mr. Hetzel started in journalism before online news but now spends much of his day assuring online content. Mr. Steinberg writes for print, of course, but he also blogs.
If you can come to the forum, please do. If not, follow us on ustream (our channel is NKYFORUM) or with a live Twitter feed (nkyforum) on March 4th. And check out our poster on designer Ryan Ostrander’s site.