Ask anyone in the business: These are dark times for the newspaper industry. Dwindling readership and shrinking profits; journalists quaking in their cubicles, wondering if their jobs will exist when the next quarter's profits are announced. Readers who once looked to the morning paper (not to mention the dimly remembered but extinct evening editions) are distracted by other media that feed them entertainment in news drag.
"I don't really like the trend of the media right now," said Cassia Laham, a Florida-based editor. "I feel like we're becoming too tangled in things unimportant. Like spending four weeks on Anna Nicole Smith or any petty news when there are bigger things happening."
Her colleague Amanda Lorber worries about the future of their industry as well. "We're all heading to the Internet and to virtual whatnot. ... We really wanna keep print alive."
Cassia and Amanda aren't the usual newsroom Cassandras, posting memos to Romenesko or gathering to commiserate about layoffs over a stiff one at the local reporter bar. They're teenagers (18 and 17, respectively) on the staff of Cypress Bay High School's student paper, The Circuit.
They're also stars of MTV's newest docu-series--that duck-billed platypus of documentary and soap opera--The Paper, which premieres April 14 after The Hills. In many ways, The Paper is perfect counterpoint to the network's phenomenally--some might say inexplicably--popular 'reality' series about young adulthood in Los Angeles. If The Hills is a magic-hour fantasy of life as a glossy shampoo commercial, The Paper exists in a fluorescent-lit world closer to Frederick Wiseman's High School, with a little bit of The Office thrown in for comic relief.