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ANN ARBOR -- It's old news that Ann Arbor, Michigan no longer has a daily newspaper.

In July, 2009, The Ann Arbor News stopped publishing every day after 174 years and lots of history. It was one of the first papers to oppose slavery.

It's been replaced by AnnArbor.com, a high-energy website that publishes a companion newspaper just two days a week.

Both the old paper and new media organization were or are owned by the same business group that owns the Plain Dealer.

Channel 3 News went to Ann Arbor to get an idea how the community has adapted to having no daily paper.

Big changes are coming soon at the Plain Dealer. The business model introduced in Ann Arbor is similar to that adopted at other Advance papers.

Ann Arbor resident Debbie Funchion said, "I like it. It's easy access and I don't have to pay for it."

Tom Brandt is a computer-focused businessperson. He said, "The stories don't seem to be as well written and don't seem to be fact-checked as well...There is a lot more fluff."

Ann Arbor is a logical place to test a new digital media model. Much of the population is young and educated, either attending class or working at the University of Michigan.

Google has a major office there.

Veteran Mayor John Hieftje said, "Ann Arbor was one of the original hubs of the internet...If it wasn't going to work here, you sure wouldn't want to try it anywhere else."

Many businesses like the website's speed and ability to change ads right away.

Chamber of Commerce President Diane Keller said, "It's been good for the business community...They might have to wait several days to get in the newspaper. Now they can have it that day."

Older and poorer residents who are not computer users feel less connected.

Charles Yates earns money selling a newspaper for the homeless.

"People like me, I'm not too great with the computer. There's no daily paper when you are looking for jobs," he said.

No daily paper has left city government scrambling to try to fill an information void.

"We've had to really step up our game and get information to the people...We've seen a big dropoff in the ability of our population to be informed...There are some folks that just are not going to go online to get their news," MayorHieftje said.

Veteran councilwoman Sabra Briere sees it as the loss of a community compass.

"We've lost a shared level of awareness..It's not just a community consensus, it's a community trust...I know this (the paper) was reliable," she said.

Channel 3 sought to get information from AnnArbor.com about how it's fulfilling its role as a journalistic watchdog and how the new business model is working.

Numerous calls and e-mails seeking to set up interviews and get information were not returned.

Tom Beres will have more on life without a daily newspaper in a two-part series tonight on Channel 3 News at 6 and 11 p.m.

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