The offices of a traditional daily are located within the subscription area, usually in the most populated community.
Centrally located, a physical presence that draws the eye and the imagination, a daily’s headquarters help establish its role as the public’s watchdog, a place that’s always humming with information and activity.
For advertisers, subscribers and community leaders, the ability to easily meet with the newspaper’s staff encourages personal interaction. The benefits of face-to-face communication are many, from the role that body language plays in clarifying meaning, to the ease of side-by-side learning, to the satisfaction felt by an angry customer given the chance to vent in the presence of a newspaper manager.
Have a problem with a story? Need help designing an ad? Want to buy a print of that terrific photo of your nephew? The people who can help are within your reach, literally.
Unhappily, smaller profits have been driving many newspapers to seek cheaper digs.
The headquarters of The Portland Newspapers, for example, where my husband and I used to work, has been sold and turned into The Press Hotel. It’s a lovely place to stay when visiting the city, and the paper’s current headquarters is still within the circulation area*, but — I’m sighing here — it’s more fun to have the newspaper downtown.
In its State of the News Media 2013 report, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism noted that, “In a symbolic indicator of decline, newspapers are abandoning the grand headquarters buildings that used to help anchor downtowns in favor of smaller, less expensive offices.”
How the mighty have fallen. And how wonderful it would be if a new business model for newspapers could resurrect the physical symbols of their importance, in downtowns across the country.
* Maine Today Media, publisher of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, has maintained an office for reporters and editors in downtown Portland, but that too will soon be gone. Click here to read more.