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"The smart newspapers are trying to squeeze as much revenue out of their print products that they can until it becomes cost prohibitive."
Lacy said quality and accuracy also impacts readership, overall.
"One problem is that when you reduce the quality, which can be as simple as spelling words correctly and getting names right, is that you lose credibility. As quality declines, and I mean that broadly, you're losing your credibility, as well as running off readers. People stop trusting their local paper.
"Twenty years ago, surveys found people didn't like the media, as defined by Washington D.C., and New York City, but they liked their local newspaper and news station. Today, we find that applies to local as well. This disinvestment had an impact on circulation and content."
Retired newspaper man Bill Thomas, who served as managing editor of The Oakland Press from 1985 to 1998, said the decline of the paper began years before it was sold to The Journal Register Company, but that the severe cuts to the newsroom's senior staff and corporate influence of how to provide local news coverage essentially destroyed the paper.
"The downfall of the news side was under Journal Register Company, and whatever else it started to call itself," Thomas said. "One of the things that (former owner) Capital Cities did was that they let their papers run autonomously. There was no central control. In today's newspaper industry, corporate decides. They tell you what the paper is going to look like. When that happens, everything starts to fall apart because there isn't one cookie-cutter approach to journalism."
When major cuts started hitting the newsroom, the staff that was let go took with them decades of journalism history. Today, Thomas said he's disenchanted with much of what is happening in the newspaper industry and infuriated about what has happened to his former newspaper and its staff.
"It's not endemic to The Oakland Press, but I think it's a case study in what happens when you pay too much for an organization, for a newspaper, and you don't have the resources or ability to make sure its success continues," Thomas said. "I think that's what happened under the Journal Register Company with The Oakland Press."
The origin of The Oakland Press dates back to the mid-19th century, when J. Dowd Coleman established the Pontiac and Oakland Gazette in 1843, according to the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. In 1854, the newspaper was acquired by ZB Knight, who renamed the paper The Pontiac Gazette. In 1906, the paper was absorbed by The Press, which was formed in 1900, and renamed The Press Gazette. Finally, in October of 1914, the paper was sold to Howard Fitzgerald, George Gardner and Harry Fitzgerald, of Flint, who expanded the paper and later renamed it The Pontiac Daily Press. In 1953, the paper was renamed The Pontiac Press....continued on page 6