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The News & Observed marked its 119th birthday this week. But will it see 125 – or 130?
It’s part of a century-old industry that last week was invaded – to be saved or razed? – by the billionaire owner of a brand-new industry, Amazon.
Executive Editor John Drescher wrote in his front-page story that founder Josephus Daniels “was an innovator. He helped invent the modern newspaper with its sports coverage, comics and sections devoted to news and commentary. Daniels died in 1948, but his creative spirit lives on at The N&O. The print paper is still important, but we also report the news digitally through,, Facebook, Twitter, tablets (such as the iPad) and our digital replica edition (an electronic newspaper that looks like the print paper).”
But can the N&O make enough money doing that? Can newspapers – even great newspapers in growing regions – survive? And in what form?
Does Jeff Bezos have a magic formula to stop the bleeding?
Josephus’ great-grandson, former Executive Editor Frank Daniels III, made the N&O an Internet pioneer. Remember
But the Internet, and Craigslist, killed classified ads. The cash flow dried up, the news hole shrank and deep staff cuts ensued. One retired N&O reporter compared the classified ads between a Sunday paper he saved from 25 years ago and one published this summer: 70-plus pages then, four now.
The N&O – and other newspapers – are still powerful. They set the agenda. They produce the content, and content is king.
But their product requires huge outlays to produce a printed page and deliver it to homes early every morning. Less revenue means less staff to produce good content.
I’m rooting for the paper. It’s been part of my morning almost all my life. I read it (print edition) first thing – unless I’m in Nags Head, where you can get it only on Sunday (maybe). My dad went to work in the N&O composing room when I was a year old. My first job at 16 was a copyboy in the newsroom. I worked there for 10 years until I went to work with Jim Hunt. And I’m sure it helps that I generally agree with their editorial positions.
So I wonder: What would Josephus do?


Posted in: General, Raleigh
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5 comments on “The N&O at 119

  1. dap916 says:

    Newspapers all across the nation are falling like flies, as you know, Gary. Why? Because of what you’ve presented here but above that, because they seem to want to maintain what has worked for them in years past but doesn’t work today.

    A case in point is when I asked a local newspaper to let me post my brand of political discourse in a column. They told me that I could do me free time…and only if what I had to offer up was “sanctioned” by the newspaper management/editors.

    Printed news is going to have to change its antiquated approach to presenting “news” and other things like political commentary and such. Readers of newspapers no longer will buy the print media to just what AP says or to get local weather reports or to see obituaries. Yes, those things are great and have to be maintained, but to get people to buy a paper, there has to be excitement…there has to be controversy…there has to be interesting topics discussed and most of all, there has to be something that comes out in the “fish wraps” that people buy it for to read about and consider and agree/disagree with on a daily basis (or bi-weekly, if that’s the case).

    As you’ve said, I can go to “WWW.SOME WEB SITE” to see my local weather and to see what the national or even the state news is. Newspapers have to offer up what the local citizens want to read about…and that’s not how Obama is good/bad or about what happened in Texas with regard to some drug cartel.

    I read the Greensboro Daily News and “toss” most of it because it’s just “more of the same” and a rehash of what I hear on CNN and NBC and Fox News and more importantly what I hear on our local news stations. It’s boring.

    There are a great many people in our local area that can and will supply good stories of interest to local citizens and there are many people that have the ability to write columns about their feelings on political matters and on health issues and on local events that aren’t just presented so as to favor one political party over the other.

    If the newspapers want to succeed going forward, they will have to change their format. It’s just that simple.

  2. Choo says:

    The N&O never felt it out lived it’s racist past. Hence the leftist bent. Leftist all have a guilt complex. Many were past racist and feel everyone is like them, only they are denouncing their evil racist past and conservatives were all racist but won’t let go. It is not guilt that makes me love my fellow man who may or may not share my skin color. Liberals who see only skin color feel they must wash their souls in the redistribution of the worldly goods of others. They are the ones who always count to make sure the correct number of every color is in the room. It is the racisim of low expectation that they exibit today. Certain colors of people they feel cannot make it in todays society without help from the wonderful helping white brothers. While most wonderful white brothers, look at their brothers of another color, and say, come on you are as good as me, make it for yourself, you can do it. The N&O never got the pardon they kept striving for, and they never let go the gut feeling that blacks were inferior. No I don’t think the N&O has been a great paper. In the old days of the south, the N&O was totally against the black man. In todays world, the N&O still believes the black man to be inferior and can’t excell without government giving him a hand up. There are many great black men and women in this state and the other 49. I am not racist enough to say they only made it because of government help. They made it because they are great people. As for me I don’t think skin color makes the man, I think character is a better judge. I’ll stay in that camp.

  3. clarence swinney says:

    Heritage Poll Slant
    Poll 10 solid Republican precincts And 69% ok Government Shut Down.
    Like my poll. Local paper poll 10 members of Chamber of Commerce.. 9 OK Liquor by the drink in local taverns. I poll 10 ministers and all are against it.

  4. Reaganite says:

    The N&O has become an even more shrill biased and dishonest political mouthpiece of the Democrats and the left since it was taken over by the McClatchey mob. It deserves to die. It toes the party line even more than Pravda did in the days of Breshnev.

  5. dap916 says:


    Please explain how that has ANYTHING to do with what Gary presented here.


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