There’s a Facebook page (4,300-plus people have joined, a Twitter account , a Twitter hashtag (#savetheobserver), innumerable blog posts – even Newsnight has come out in support. There is a very real feeling of affection being stated for the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper.
Butit strikes me that what people are saying about The Observer is strangely familiar.
Anyone who watched the compelling (and desperately sad) video of the last day of the Rocky Mountain News will probably remember that film featured a series of talking heads from reader.
The interviews start around 8.40 minutes in to the video, and the comments that your average Joe Reader comes back with follow a common theme:
“It’s what keeps me in touch”
“You won’t miss it til it’s gone”
“An uninformed society breeds a lot of social evils”
These are people talking about their local paper before it closed but after its closure became an inevitability.
They are good quotes, and they have impact, but do they tell the whole story? Is the other side of the coin the ones who would have said:
“I don’t buy it”
“I won’t miss it”
“It’s not relevant to me”
Economic pressures and the newspaper industry crisis has been blamed for the demise of Colorado’s oldest newspaper but the phrase “Denver can’t support two newspapers” crops up in both the video and print accounts of its closure.
Interestingly, in recent weeks a new daily online news magazine has sprung up – the Rocky Mountain Independent – created by some of the writers and editors who previously worked for the RMN. It’s a free site, and I’d like to think it can succeed.
In the same spirit, I wish The Observer, its staff and those who are trying to save it all the luck in the world. They are certainly doing their best – the latest report is that a radically-slimmed down Sunday paper is being proposed.
I hope there’s a positive outcome to this story, and I’ll be buying The Observer this Sunday to show my support. But, in all honesty, I think the best that can be expected in this instance is a stay of execution.