Another Daily Newspaper Circles the Drain

Down with the ship!

by James A. Bacon

The Daily Progress, Charlottesville’s daily newspaper, no longer offers daily delivery on its website, reports WINA talk show host Rob Schilling. Potential subscribers are given only two options at the newspaper website: a digital subscription (introductory offer of $1.00 for 26 weeks) and a month of Sunday-only delivery for $21.67.

Describing the “once flourishing publication” as in its death throes, Schilling details the newspaper’s plight:

  • only two dedicated local news reporters;
  • only a single local news story in most editions;
  • a preponderance of reprints from sister publications like the Richmond Times-Dispatch;
  • An increasing number of typos and publishing errors; and
  • Woke, leftist journalistic style, and a leftist slant to everyday news reporting.

Writes Schilling: “Fair reporting, traditional grammar and language application, competent editing, and balanced editorializing could have saved Charlottesville’s Daily Progress. Sadly, the opposite paths were followed and thus, the paper’s physical demise seems almost certain.”

Bacon’s bottom line: I don’t know if anything can save The Daily Progress, the newspaper serving a metropolitan market of 230,000 people. Most other newspapers large and small are in the same boat. Google, Facebook and the other social media giants have figured out how to monetize local news, leaving the creators of that product nothing but the scraps. Social media are literally killing the goose that lays the golden egg. How will they generate traffic when the newspapers all fail?

The newspapers aren’t doing themselves any favors. Their value proposition stinks. Old people comprise what’s left of the shrinking market for the local news business. Old people tend to be conservative. But newspapers hire Woke reporters who want to save the world — and spit on everything old people believe, every day. I’ve never seen an industry more assiduously alienate its core market. Never.

So, what comes next when all the legacy newspapers fold, as seems inevitable? Who will be the last media outlets standing? Tax- and foundation-supported Virginia Public Media and the foundation-supported Virginia Mercury.


Richmond Times-Dispatch update: Talking about pathetic, shrinking publications…. Consider the RTD. An organization I am affiliated with, The Jefferson Council, wanted to run a full-page ad in the RTD print edition. Our Council president called the advertising department and got dumped into voice mail. No one ever called back. Then I called the advertising department and got dumped into voice mail. No one ever called back. Did anyone even answer the voice mail? Probably not. If not, why not? Do so few people leave messages that no one bothers to check anymore?

The RTD print circulation is about 25% of what it was at its height. The rate for a full-page ad is pathetically low. The news operation runs on a skeleton staff of mostly Woke reporters who routinely offend their mostly elderly readers. The news content, like that of the Daily Progress, are pumped up with contributions from the shrinking news operations from around the state. The word I continually hear from the remaining subscribers: “I read it for the sports and the obituaries.”

What a shame. Where will we get our local news then? Instagram? TikTok?