Dear regional newspapers,

You know you’re in trouble. If you keep losing subscribers as fast as you are now, your last daily readers will drop their subscriptions in April 2043. And you know all the reasons: we live in the Information Age, when media outlets spread faster than kudzu. That’s why some of you have turned your staff writers into bloggers or begun giving us more coverage of local communities.

These changes may save you from extinction. But you want to do better than mere survival. Right? So read Philip Meyer’s The Vanishing Newspaper, and he’ll show you something else you could do. You could do quality journalism.

This means you give us — day in and day out — an accurate, readable, and credible product. You may think you already do this, but more than half of the stories you run have at least one error — grammatical, mathematical, factual, or a misquote. And don’t think the small slipups — forgo for forego or Summit for Summitt — don’t matter. If you can’t get the small things right, why should we expect you to get the big things right? As Meyer, professor of journalism, sees it, the more accurate you are, the more credible you are, and the more credible, the more profitable.

What are some steps to a credible product? You hire a real public editor to keep you honest, forget about the high profit margins, and certify journalists as professionals, the way lawyers and teachers are certified. You’ll find all the hard data you need to back up this business model in The Vanishing Newspaper.

So you can scoff at yet another prediction of your death, and go on about your business as usual. But here’s a warning: If you just sit back and relax, you very well may lose entire generations of readers who have grown up in a world with the internet and cable TV. And it may be a world that has already forgotten it needs you.

Sincerely, a subscriber

Cherry Crayton was formerly a staff writer for Endeavors.