Are Restaurant Reviews Important Local Newspaper Content?

On the drive from Minneapolis to Fort Wayne, IN today, I had a short discussion
with Jeremy where we discussed the
declining
circulation numbers of the
Minneapolis
Star Tribune
, the largest daily newspaper in Minnesota.

When I look at large dailies, the biggest problem I see is summarized by rew in
the comments on MNSpeak:

“. . . they’re so reliant on wire services now that all the papers are 50% the
same.”

I’m not interested in wire stories in my local daily since it’s redundant
content to me. I’ve already read it online.

I look to my local paper for local information. In the case of the Minneapolis
paper, I read local news, sports, business, events, and opinions. I tend to skip
national and international news, since I get that type of news from other
sources (usually online, and before the paper arrives), and I turn to
yet
additional
sources for
hyper-local news, such as neighborhood newspapers.

The trend here is a diversification of news sources based on interest. In the
above example, the diversification is based on geographic relevancy of content,
but the same things happens regarding depth of news coverage.

One area where I’m particularly surprised by the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s
behavior is their handling of restaurant reviews. They’ve recently scaled back
the number of restaurant reporters working for the paper. Restaurant reviews are
exactly the type of content local newspapers should be able to dominate at. A
database of professional reviews of local restaurants is extraordinarily hard to
replicate. And the reviews are extraordinarily relevant to the appropriate
market.

However, as I thought about it more, it dawned on me that the largest growth
areas for daily papers in the Twin Cities are the suburbs. And suburbs don’t
have restaurants worth reviewing. It’s not like you’re going to send a reporter
out to the latest TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s in the 3rd ring suburb to compare
it to the TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s in the first and second ring ‘burbs.

Maybe newspapers are just following the money to the burbs and abandoning the
foodies in the urban core?

In response, the urban core is taking care of itself by blogging their own
restaurant reviews. Here are a few examples:

If people are passionate enough to write about an issue, they’re certainly
passionate enough to read about it. In fact, they’d probably write about what
they read.

Do you think restaurant reviews an important piece of locally produced newspaper content?

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