Trib's closure marks a sad day for New Mexico

Posted 2/20/2008 10:52:00 AM

Today’s announcement that the Albuquerque Tribune will publish its last edition on Saturday is a reminder of the depressing state of the nation’s newspaper industry that should be concerning to all Americans.

It’s also an incredibly sad day for New Mexico.

The Tribune has a strong journalistic tradition that includes a Pulitzer Prize. The Trib, for a long time, dedicated more resources than any other paper in the state to hard-hitting, investigative journalism that can have a tangible impact on public policy and people’s lives.

As an afternoon newspaper, it was probably doomed long ago. But it’s really a casualty of the state of the newspaper industry.

Readership is declining. Americans’ news habits have already shifted to the Internet, and newspapers haven’t yet found a profitable way to accommodate that reality. That means we’re stuck in an ugly transition phase in which the newspaper industry is simply not devoting the resources necessary to fulfill its role as the Fourth Estate.

I’m guessing historians will consider that fact when pondering what was different about this era that allowed our current president so much freedom to bend civil-liberties laws and mislead the public into war.

Journalists are dropping like flies. Even the New York Times recently announced layoffs, and the Los Angeles Times’ owners have fired a couple of editors for their refusal to cut staff there.

The biggest problem is corporate ownership and its insistence on profit margins that are greater than those in the oil industry. Stock holders and corporate executives who usually live in other cities – people who have no real interest in the local communities – own most of America’s daily newspapers.

That’s why I’m publishing this site. The Internet presents an opportunity for a new, independent, local media to return strong journalism to communities where it’s sorely needed. But it’s going to take time for Internet journalists to become the force that newspapers were in their heyday.

The media is a much-needed check on power in our democracy. I fear what would happen to this nation without a strong, watchdog media keeping its eyes on our government.

The Trib led the New Mexico media in filling that role for a long time. It will be sorely missed.

A prior version of this posting incorrectly stated that the Trib is the only New Mexico newspaper that has won a Pulitzer Prize. The Albuquerque Journal was awarded one in 1990.



At 12:39 PM, February 20, 2008, Blogger AHD said...

I don't always agree with your reporting or bias but you do offer a close example of what the future holds for journalism. The evolution of media and information continues with genuine journalists like you. Keep up the good job Heath!

Aaron Henry Diaz

At 3:03 PM, February 20, 2008, Blogger Tino said...

Oh no! The tribune was awesome.

It makes me wonder why they'd rather shut it down that sell it, even for a small price. I know a couple groups were looking into it.


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