Internet Impacting Fortunes Of Regional Papers
Of course, this situation is unlikely to last, given the recent pace of change, Doctor acknowledged: "Over time, some of these differences between large urban areas and small areas will disappear, and some will diminish." But even here, he went on, small-town papers have a distinct advantage--once again, because of their virtual monopoly on local news reporting.
"Again, in these areas there isn't much alternative to the local newspaper for local news, and the news aggregators--Yahoo Local or MSN Local, for example--really need to have a local news partner to have an effective local news offering," Doctor observed. By contrast, he said, "the problem in big areas is that if the big newspapers don't play, they can go to TV or radio stations."
Even better for small-town papers, Doctor added, they're also likely to retain their advertising relationships and their monopoly on classified listings--one of the key areas where Internet services like Craigslist are eating into the revenue of big regional dailies. "It makes sense in advertising, in that there are smaller, stand-alone stores and people who buy locally, and you don't have a Craigslist on the classified side. If you look at Craigslist they might cover the top 200 cities in the country, but everyone else sort of flies under the radar."