Some great news for papers like YES! Weekly

by Brian Clarey

The news isn’t all bad for newspapers. Alt-weeklies in particular, like this very one you hold in your hands, will play a serious role in the future of journalism, according to Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism (of which, incidentally, News Editor Jordan Green is an alumni) in a blog posted on the New York Times website. “Alternatively, the gap in independent reporting on matters of public importance left by ailing newspapers could be filled by other organizations,” he writes. They might be new, web-based news services, like GlobalPost, or local news organizations, like MinnPost in Minneapolis, or beefed-up versions of existing entities other than newspapers: radio and television stations, alternative weeklies, magazines.” The blog, called Battle Plans for Newspapers, features commentary by other print media luminaries who share a bit of optimism for alternative weeklies. Geneva Overholser, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and former editor of the Des Moines Register, opined that “[Alternative weeklies] have good reviews of films and theater and concerts.” And Rick Rodriguez, a professor of journalism at Arizona State University and former executive outputat a modern newspaper takes place online — although it remains to beseen whether newspapers can build a profitable business model aroundthe web. But for hundreds of local employees and thousands of readers,the daily newspaper is still a point of value and pride. Atthe intersection of North Glenn Avenue and Old Walkertown Road, way outin the rural suburbs of Winston- Salem, the daily newspaper is stillalive. Newspaper hawker Turhan Hughes spreads out stacks of the Winston-Salem Journal arounda 16-foot concrete island in the middle of the road. A rock sits on topof each pile. “I do it that way so if someone tries to run up and stealthe newspapers, they can only get one pile,” Hughes says. Hughes wearsa camouflage scarf and a camouflage bucket hat, which hide most of hisround and smiling face. An orange newspaper vest stretches over hisbulky blue jacket. White earbuds hang from around his neck. Like hisfriend Daniels, Hughes walks with a limp, due to a car wreck many yearsago. Hughes has worked as a newspaper hawker since 1993 at this samespot. “I’m like a roll of toilet paper,” Hughes says. “Do you ever goto the toilet, and you get there, and then you realize there’s notoilet paper? You’re upset! That’s what people think if they drive byand I’m not here.” Hughes sells close to 100 newspapers a day, up from20 a day when he first started. But he always saves the last newspaper. “If I come home without the Sunday paper, my wife won’t let me in the door,” Hughes says.