In recent years, newspapers have seen a significant decline in their circulation, partly due to readers’ migration to the Internet to get their daily news fix.

In my neighborhood, I’m a dinosaur–the only one among 20 households that gets a Chicago newspaper delivered. Among all my immediate neighbors, generally well-educated, middle-class types, only one even joins me in picking up Sunday delivery of the Trib.

From a public relations standpoint, all of this points to the wisdom of placing increased emphasis on the strategic online placement of stories, through user-generated portals like the Chicago Tribune’s Triblocal and the Sun-Times News Group’s Neighborhood Circle.

While neither site appears to command an audience anywhere close to rivaling the traditional print editions, they clearly can play a complementary role in any media outreach. They are particularly useful in light of newspapers’ shrinking news hole, which has made it even tougher to secure coverage than in the past.

At the least, sites like Triblocal and Neighborhood Circle serve as a credible online location to position news releases–a step I’ve taken scores of times for a variety of clients over the past year.

On a related note, a recent column by Chicago Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal (pictured here) is worth checking out.

In his Dec. 14 column, Rosenthal examines the dramatic step that beleagured Detroit newspapers are taking amid declining readership: abandoning newspaper home delivery most days of the week.

The move, writes Rosenthal, “would make them the first major metropolitan dailies in the country to pull so far away from the traditional newspaper business model.”

“This new playbook,” Rosenthal adds, “less a bold innovation than a Hail Mary pass, comes at a tough time for the entire industry, which has suffered double-digit decline in ad revenue this year.”

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