Let’s try a simple count of locally produced news stories in your daily newspaper. Yes, the print edition. The whole news system feeds off the flow of newspaper content, right? Lots of people asking, what’s going to replace newspapers if they can’t make it? Expecting amateurs to step in is dumb, and it won’t happen. But before we can face this matter of “replace” head on we at least need some current numbers.

Let’s find out what the printed newspaper on the local level has been able to deliver recently, so we know in rough, round terms what we have to replace. Once we know in a ballpark way what the newspaper journalism, replacement level is, we at least know how far we have to go in realizing some comparable framework for a new system. (An even harder problem: how do you get the news to the people the print edition once reached if it comes to the point where you do have to replace the newspaper? First step: how many news stories were those people getting?)

That’s where you come in. You’re here to help.

Simply enter in the comments:

Your hometown:

The name of your newspaper:

The url for its website:

and the count for the print edition

Number of locally-produced NEWS stories for which original reporting is required, including business and features and news sections:

(A re-written press release does not count. “Required some original reporting” is the key marker. If it did, then count it.)

Number of locally-produced SPORTS stories:

Date and day of the week that you counted:

Vincrosbie advises me on Twitter: Counts should include number of wire and syndicated stories, produced by others so we can see proportion of stories that are indeed homegrown. And so…

Total number of stories that ran in the paper.

Thank you, that’s it.

Now this part is totally optional, not part of the study. But if you wish to discuss how hard it would be to replace that number of stories, you may also do that in the comments. Also, why my count is unfair, flawed, misleading, won’t work— put it in the comments. Thanks!

Another option: do the count, blog about it, and drop the link in the comments.

A little background. Kathy Gill, who teaches at the University of Washington in the Digital Media Program, wrote at her blog: “Today’s Sunday’s Seattle Times, for example, had two locally-produced news stories in the A section (three if you count the front-page photo); three locally-produced stories in the B section; one in business; and one in real estate. (I didn’t check sports.)” That’s a count of seven.

Geoff Doughtery, who runs a news start-up in Chicago, said in this comment thread that the Chicago Tribune had that day published eight homegrown, original-reporting-required non-sports stories. (I followed up with him by email and got his counting rules correct.)

Then Techdirt took it a bit further. “We’re not talking about huge numbers here.”

I don’t know if that’s true or not. Maybe we are talking about huge numbers, or very very solid service. Maybe it’s less than some of us think. Or more! But it’s worth knowing. So thanks for helping us out.


Andrew Cline posts his answers: 7 news stories in Springfield, Mo, 2 sports.

John Zhu has his newspaper’s count and a good number of complications to factor in.

I agree that it would be a mistake to equate “output” from Newsroom Zebra with “number of stories in the Zebra’s print edition,” but it is not a mistake to begin there if we are trying to right size our thinking. To draw large, quick or global conclusions from the simple figures gathered here would be extremely unwise.

Ryan Chittum at Columbia Journalism Review picks up the theme: Just What’s Left in the Metro Dailies? He says,“If we’re going to figure out the next model we need to know what exactly we’re ‘replacing’—to use that term. I love newspapers as much as anybody, but many are ghosts of their former selves, and becoming more spectral seemingly every day. It’s getting less and less difficult to ‘replace’ them.”

Also, what about the Turing test? :-)