The Music Business Is Unbundling The Song. Now The Newspaper Business Unbundling The Paragraph

The Washington Post’s Frank Ahrens’ writes today about how the tiny local newspaper remains a good business. (My BusinessWeek colleague Tom Lowry previously did an excellent piece on the same topic.)

Good business, if not exactly good reading.

Ahrens points out one example of what’s passing for creativity at these papers (emphasis mine):

Freedom has made the Shelby (N.C.) Star the chain’s laboratory paper, and the 15,000-circulation daily has run with the mandate.

Under editor Skip Foster, the Star last spring began abandoning the paragraph story form for a barebones rundown that simply lists who, what, when, where and why an event happened. The Star’s front page on the morning after November’s midterm elections, for example, displayed only one succinct headline, “Dems Dominate,” and no stories. Instead, the page explained three local races in bite-size info-nuggets.

“For many readers,” Foster has said, “the paragraph is a dinosaur.”

I am still in my thirties but evidently I am an old, old man. A few months back I was getting all cranky about how the shift to the ringtone equals unbundling the song.

I’m all for tossing overboard many pieties over how newspapers should do things. But call me crazy: I still like paragraphs.

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