Press Enterprise and Openness?

I and others have been critical about the lack of open and available news in and around Bloomsburg, PA over the last several weeks. It has been widely documented that the Press Enterprise offered two or three days of free digital distribution following the flood — primarily because they couldn’t deliver the physical paper to residents in flooded areas. After those first three days, the Press went back to posting daily stories behind a paywall.

Since the flood that has so devastated Bloomsburg, PA there have been several Facebook pages started to try and organize help and information for the people in town — many of whom have lost everything. Demands to the Press Enterprise to open their flood related information has been met with silence from them. Amazingly there have been so many people who have defended the approach by the Press, saying it is a business and we can’t expect them to give away the paper. That has been a faulty and mismatched argument from the beginning as I haven’t seen anyone demanding that all of the Press be opened, instead the focus has been on flood related images and news.

I haven’t been shy about sharing the numbers of views I’ve received for the 373 photos I posted openly to Flickr in the days following the flood. As a matter of fact, in a presentation I gave at the PA Newspaper Association’s Advertising Conference last week I shared that these photos were viewed 153,650 times from 9/11/2011 through 9/28/2011. What that tells me is that there is a market of need that wasn’t being filled by traditional channels.

Today, my wife shared with me a new page that appears in google search results for an open archive of 30 pictures from the Press Enterprise. The photos are shared in a gallery outside the paywall and are openly available to view and download. Like we have hoped from the beginning, the photos are excellent in that they are taken in the moment by newspaper professionals. Is the Press Enterprise listening to the pleas and (in my opinion) appropriately toned criticism? Perhaps, but either way we now have access to at least 30 images linked from the official newspaper site of the greater Bloomsburg area. I call that progress by any measure.

5 thoughts on “Press Enterprise and Openness?

    • I did edit it down to get it within their requested limits. I resubmitted it on Saturday morning … nothing so far. Either way, the news above is an interesting change in direction. I sincerely hope it is a sign of things to come!

  1. Has the Press lost subscribers, digital or print, as a result of their silence and inaction in this area? I would cancel mine; they are a business, as many have pointed out, but I am a consumer and I can choose where to spend my money. That wouldn’t help the area recover, but it would let the Press know how much the community appreciates their cooperation.

    • Brandon, on the contrary I suspect their subscription base has grown … even if it is temporary. I read in one of the few oral histories of the Press I could find that the greatest boom in their business came during the 1972 flood. People want to know what is going on — I could even stretch that to they *need* to know what is going on. I hate to feel this way, but it hurts me to see them work to increase profit during this time. I understand it is a business, but one that is built on the foundation of the community. What people need is an alternative and open source of community information. Something like perhaps?

  2. The invisible hand from the market always moves faster and better compared to the heavy hand of government.
    The secret of business is always to have some understanding that who else knows.

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