"I don't know how we get back to where we were'

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It was voted the best small New England daily newspaper in 2015. Now, except for once a week, it's a daily website. (Courtesy image)

You may have your doubts about what some are telling you about COVID-19, but one things appears absolutely indisputable.

This disease can be very hard on an aging population.

This week we also saw it take down a chunk of the state's aging infrastructure of print journalism.

But the end was coming anyway, said a former executive editor of The Telegraph of Nashua, which ceased all print editions except for their Sunday edition beginning last Monday.

Phil Kincade

"This was going to happen eventually," said Phil Kincade, a former executive editor at The Telegraph and current executive director of the New Hampshire Press Association. "We were heading for this point; with the COVID-19 it just accelerated the end."
Print journalism is fading away for one reason: They don't have the market to generate revenue, Kincade said.

"Newspapers used to be 50 percent news and 50 percent advertising, and now the advertising is gone," he said. "And you can't support a newspaper that's 95 percent news and 5 percent advertising."

Three sections of the advertising landscape that used to provide print journalism with a large chunk of its income are simply no longer there, Kincade noted.

"It's no longer economically viable for real estate agents or auto dealers or people looking for employment to advertise (in newspapers). It's not an efficient way to do it," he said. "They're never going to get those back."

The Telegraph's woes are emblematic of newspapers across the state and beyond.

Last month the Eagle Times of Claremont announced they would be discontinuing their Tuesday and Saturday print editions.

Earlier this year the Union Leader ceased its Saturday print edition, while the Portland Press Herald shut down its Monday paper.

But the constriction is not only from print to online, it's a gutting of news staff statewide.

Seacoast Newspapers, which owns Foster's, is indefinitely furloughing news staff for one week a month. The Union Leader and Valley News have also furloughed staff, which all diminishes news gathering ability.

Kincade said it's all extremely painful to watch.

"It's tremendously sad to see that local journalism, and there's nothing more important, is being decimated," he said on Thursday.

But unlike the pandemic, there's no light at the end of this tunnel.

"I don't know the answer," he said. "I don't know how we get back to where we were, with a local reporter showing up every day at City Hall to let people know what's going on.

"I don't' see that ever getting back to where it was."

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