In a surprising twist for an industry coming off a suffocating July that saw nine papers fold, Alabama’s Shelby County Reporter plans to launch a new newspaper on Saturday. The Pelham Reporter will be distributed for free on Saturdays throughout Pelham and will be updated on a daily Web site, providing local news to a town that hasn’t had its own paper in 166 years.
In the announcement on the Shelby County Reporter Web site, publisher Tim Prince wrote he hopes the paper and Web site “will represent the soul and basic fabric of the community.” But he added this:
We believe a newspaper should be a champion of the community it serves. That’s not the same as a cheerleader. A champion will celebrate the successes and point out the failures of a community. There are people who will wish we wouldn’t publish negative news…If we recognize bad things are occurring, we can change them. Together, we can make our community better.
But if larger towns like Ann Arbor and Sacramento have lost their papers to declining circulation and decreased ad revenue, a free paper that is already promising negative news to a population of under 21,000 doesn’t really sound like a good way to lure advertisers back to print.