Penny Muse Abernathy likes to think in ledes.
The lede she’d write for alternative news weeklies would have something to do with how the decline of print publication and the rise of digital journalism are changing the traditional role of the alternative press.
“What struck me is that many of you are at an inflection point,” she said, during her keynote address at the 2014 Association of Alternative Newsmedia conference in Nashville. “It’s driven by the fact that you have the decline of traditional media, most especially the decline of the longstanding, major newspaper in your market. And in many ways, you are becoming the community newspaper.”
Abernathy is a Knight chair in digital media economics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to that, she was a business executive at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Harvard Business Review. She’s also the author of the new book Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability.
The challenge she sees for alternative newspapers is how to be the source for community journalism while maintaining their “alternative” edge.
“You go from being the attacker, the entrepreneur, to being the one who is attacked,” Abernathy said.
This week’s podcast is a recording of Abernathy’s presentation at the 2014 AAN conference. She discusses the economic shift taking place in the journalism industry and what business decisions publishers need to make in order to remain competitive.