Lessons in Defender's farewell

Opinion: Editorials

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The Chicago Defender as most of us know it is dead after the famed newspaper's owner decided to stop printing physical copies of the paper. As lovers and providers of community journalism, and as an entity that's deeply concerned about the advancement of equity and racial justice in this country, we mourn the print paper's demise. 

As a publisher of local weeklies, we also look at what happened to the Defender as an object lesson. 

We can't help but wonder whether or not the great newspaper's decision to stop printing would have been so regrettable if it had successfully transformed itself years ago into a company designed to benefit from the digital environment, rather than be crushed by it. Far from moralizing, we ask the question because we want answers ourselves. 

Perhaps The Defender emerges from this bottoming out a leaner, more effective, digital-only news provider. Maybe not. 

Recently, we've been mulling how we can better situate ourselves to compete in a world where news has become more expensive and more undervalued than ever. We know there are things we have to improve. 

For starters, we need to start taking digital-first to heart by moving away from the reflex to publish for print and moving toward the reflex to publish for the internet. The digital present is all about immediacy. 

As for what we don't know, well, dear reader, this is about as good a time as any to solicit your thoughts. If you've got ideas that might keep Wednesday Journal on the path of sustainability, let us know (Facebook comment if you'd like). As the late Ross Perot said, we're all ears.

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