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Are Newspapers Nearing the End? April 15 Panel Discussion at WIU

April 2, 2009

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MACOMB, IL - - Their names are well known to the Baby Boomer generation and their elders: the National Press Club, the Washington Press Corps, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and many other newspapers throughout the Midwest, Southwest and West Coast that have made cutbacks in staffing or have been forced to shut down.

"In our time 'information wants to be free,' but journalists want to be paid and shareholders want to see black ink and not red," said Mark Butzow, assistant professor of journalism at Western Illinois University. "For either of those to happen, newspapers need to make money, which many of them no longer are. As a result newspapers are shutting down across the country. The Chicago Tribune is in bankruptcy. The New York Times has had to put its new building up for sale. The Macomb Journal no longer publishes on Mondays."

Butzow will be part of a four-member panel that will look at newspaper issues at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 15 in the University Union Sandburg Lounge. The panel dialogue, "Not (Yet) the End: A Discussion About Newspapers," will include Mohammad Siddiqi, professor and director of Western's journalism program; Bill Knight, journalism professor; and Bradley Dilger, associate professor of English, who will discuss the use of new media to disseminate news.

Newspapers are not the only ones hurting, according to Butzow. Television newsrooms across the country are cutting back on reporters.

"Some say that 'citizen journalists' (bloggers) will replace professional journalists. Others hope that newspapers will be able to make the transition to online entities," Butzow said. "The Seattle Post Intelligencer recently shut down as a print paper and is now an online only news source. The Christian Science Monitor will become online only in a few weeks.

"The point of the panel is to address what is happening - - and what is not happening - - with newspapers in particular and news in general - - and what it all means for the future of our democracy, which, after all, is in no small part founded on the Freedom of the Press," he added.

The panel discussion is open free to the public.

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