Is there hope for the Wausau Daily Herald?
Gannett is selling off small market newspapers to local owners - could that happen in Wausau?
There used to be a feeling of excitement being the only reporter in the room.
It meant I had sleuthed out something other media outlets hadn’t picked up on yet. It was rare. Sometimes it came via a tip from a reader or source. Sometimes I saw something on an agenda and knew enough about the background to realize its importance. Or sometimes I just got lucky.
Increasingly though being the only reporter in the room has transitioned from rare to a sad commentary on the state of local journalism. I’m the only one there because coverage just isn’t what it used to be.
The Daily Herald’s absence, a Gannett publication and my former employer, is especially troublesome. When I first job-shadowed at the Daily Herald in 2005, I met with dozens of reporters throughout the day. The newsroom was bustling. There was a separate sports department I ended up working for part time.
The building is still there, but it’s a ghost town. The public can’t enter the building; with it so empty, the building was closed for the safety of the few left when an unhinged individual came in and harassed a female reporter. Every once in a while I glance at the Daily Herald’s print edition and rarely is there a local story on the cover. Let that sink in: The front page of the daily local newspaper doesn’t have a local story. (There once was a policy of only featuring local news on the cover, for comparison.)
In speaking with colleagues in Green Bay and Stevens Point, it appears those markets aren’t much different: Seeing a local reporter is rare. Gannett just seems to have gotten rid of most if not all of its reporters.
Could that be changing? If Gannett continues on a recent trend, there could be a strange kind of hope for the Wausau Daily Herald.
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