Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's a Small World After All

The news world is getting smaller and smaller, folks.

Buried in last week's avalanche of election news was this little nugget: The St. Pete Times and the Miami Herald will merge their Tallahassee bureaus in December to "provide a new level of depth of coverage" of Florida's capital.

I understand that this move will save the two papers money in these tight financial and circulation times. This is especially true for McClatchy, owner of the Miami Herald, which is weighed down by enormous debt from its merger with Knight Ridder.

But the reader is not necessarily well served by the merger of these capital bureaus or any news partnership among and between former newspaper rivals.

When two competing papers merge their operations, competition is reduced. It's as simple as that. Instead of having two papers competing for good stories for their readers, you will have one. No matter how good the stories may turn out to be for the merged bureaus, a loss of coverage has occurred. The number of newspaper voices has been diminished. This is not a good thing, but apparently it is an increasingly popular thing to do.

The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram are also considering a partnership. I lived in Dallas many years ago, when the Dallas Times-Herald was still in circulation. The Times-Herald was a scappy paper with a lot of heart. It beat the pants off the Morning News plenty of days. The death of the Times-Herald didn't improve coverage in Dallas, but it sure enriched the News' parent company Belo Corp.

And if you recall, earlier this year the Herald, Sun-Sentinel and PB Post announced they would combine resources to cover certain stories in South Florida.

As these mergers or partnerships continue, readers can look forward to ever shrinking sources of news.

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