Saturday, December 6, 2014 – 11:00 a.m.

The sad steady decline in newspaper circulation continues to pressure publications nationwide, and in the Inland Empire.

Inland papers continue to reduce their in-house content, while paid advertisements take up an ever increasing amount of news print.

Last weekend I purchased hard copies of both The Press-Enterprise and The Sun. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The number of stories penned by local reporters was scant. Wire service or content from other related publications was used as filler.

How residents are supposed to glean relevant local news from the newspapers is an interesting question. The key words here being relevant and local.

Freedom Communications, the owner of the Orange County Register, recent purchase of The Press-Enterprise isn’t going off too well these days. Freedom’s failed startup of the Los Angeles Register has been a disaster. The company has also had problems delivering its newspapers. Recently Freedom offered gift cards to employees in exchange for helping complete delivery routes.

Truth-be-told, The Press-Enterprise hasn’t been a money machine for some time either. Prior to being sold to Freedom, by Belo Corp., the paper was essentially subsidized by the Dallas Morning News, another Belo publication

Just this week Freedom announced the elimination of 100 non-newsroom employees at both newspapers. In September the company sold its Orange County Register headquarters to a private investor for $27 million.

The Los Angeles Times has also sued Freedom for breach of contract over terminating a delivery contract, where the Times was delivering the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Register. There have also been allegations that Freedom withheld subscriber tips from delivery carriers.

The Times is reportedly seeking $2.5 million in damages from Freedom.

Now we come to publications operated by the Los Angeles News Group (LANG), which aren’t fairing much better.

The Redlands Daily Facts, The Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin newspapers share local content on a wide scale. The papers also include content from the groups Los Angeles County newspapers.

If car dealers actually stopped advertising in the papers could they even survive?

One has to wonder if direct mail advertising is money better spent.

On September 14, Digital First Media (DFM), the parent company of LANG, announced it was “exploring strategic alternatives”. Translated the phrase means business is not good. DFM has also placed The Denver Post and several of its other newspapers up for sale.

Nevertheless, it’s the free press that acts as a check and balance against government overreach. When it comes to Inland newspapers the phrase “Looking the other way” comes to mind. Meaning they ignore more issues than they write about, in addition to playing favorites.

It’s a distressful situation that should concern everyone.