Best death watch

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Like to speculate on the next big fail? Lately, the bell seems to be tolling for our only daily newspaper, whose debt-riddled parent company—Richmond-based media conglomerate Media General—has been drastically cutting costs in a desperate attempt to ride out a perfect storm of financial doom: increasing competition from free content on the Internet, a global recession driving ad revenue into the bowels of hell, and three-quarters of a billion dollars in long-term debt. In the last year and a half, Media General has moved the DP’s printing operations to the Hanover, Virginia printing site of the Richmond Times Dispatch, raised the DP’s newsstand price to 75 cents, laid off 21 percent of its workforce, and imposed 10 mandatory furlough days on all workers. The DP’s shrinking newsroom now sits in a creepily empty 30,000-square-foot building that Media General put up for sale shortly after stopping the printing presses there. As contents get thinner and thinner, public supposition mounts that the DP’s print version soon may come out fewer days a week or become an insert of the Times-Dispatch. Media General has already utilized the former tactic at three of its smaller community papers in North Carolina. The Grim Reaper may not close the shop tomorrow, but he definitely is spooking the place.

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