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Newspapers: Still important?
Old 02-26-2009, 01:58 PM   #1
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Newspapers: Still important?

According to tomorrow's WSJ Denver's Rocky Mountain News will publish its last edition on Friday.

Newspapers are in big trouble. The San Francisco Chronicle is on the ropes, and the companies which publish the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Enquirer have declared bankruptcy, along with the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I know that newspapers are not doing well in their competition for eyeballs, but I hope they don't become extinct. They need to find a business model that allows them to make money selling the valuable information they contain.

I think newspapers do a better job than any other medium in unearthing local corruption and bringing essential local issues to light. TV is to focused on the glitzy stuff--viewers won't sit still for a 2 minute story about the impact of a zoning change. The internet (blogs, Twitter, etc) produces very little new information, and there's no one to sift the junk and stand behind a story.

I don't even care for my local paper very much, but I subscribe to it as a means of supporting a gaggle of paid snoops. I want people looking under the rug and shouting long and loud about local outrages they find.

Even the New York Times is in trouble. There have been many days when I'd dance with joy on the grave of the Grey Lady, but in my heart I know we'd all be a little poorer if our own Pravda went under. But, just a little . . .
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:59 PM   #2
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They start putting most or all of their content online for free, and they wonder why subscriptions are down so far. Hmm, I wonder...
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:11 PM   #3
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The main reason I get the Dallas Sunday Snooze is because of the coupons. I skim the headlines and read the comics of course.....

My subscription cost last year was $120. I saved $400 using the coupons.
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:15 PM   #4
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The main reason I get the Dallas Sunday Snooze is because of the coupons. I skim the headlines and read the comics of course.....
If we could get a Sunday-only subscription via home delivery at a reasonable rate (say $2 a week or so), I'd do it for the coupons, too.

We're a little too far off the beaten path for any of the major local papers to offer home delivery, and they want you to take Friday and Saturday too, when all we'd want is Sunday for the coupons.
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:57 PM   #5
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Who has time to read the paper?

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Old 02-26-2009, 03:04 PM   #6
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Who has time to read the paper?

HFWR, working slob...
Not sure I could get my day started without reading the paper each morning. I take an hour each day to read the morning paper before going to work, while also enjoying a half pot of coffee.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:12 PM   #7
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:12 PM   #8
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I don't think the papers can last if people buy them only on Sundays--they would have to shut down.

I did read the papers that are declaring bankruptcy are still viable financially as an enterprise, they just have that darned old debt problem.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:14 PM   #9
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I don't think the papers can last if people buy them only on Sundays--they would have to shut down.
Maybe they ought to stagger the coupon inserts throughout the week instead of putting all of them in on Sunday. If that's a major reason why people only want the Sunday paper, that could stimulate demand for a 7-day subscription.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:17 PM   #10
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The coupons are a non-starter for me. I tend to buy the cheapest least processed food I can find. Not many coupons for a bag of no-name pinto beans or brown rice...
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:21 PM   #11
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According to tomorrow's WSJ Denver's Rocky Mountain News will publish its last edition on Friday.
I told DW that the Rocky, two months shy of its 150th birthday, was publishing its final edition tomorrow (see Article). She said that is "so sad."

I asked when the last time she (we) bought a newspaper and she figured it was over ten years ago (closer to fifteen, I believe). So I said, "See it is all your fault."

Print version Newspapers have been irrelevant for quite some time. (I read the online versions of around fifteen newspapers every morning -- from Al Jazeera to the Honolulu's Star Bulletin and Advertiser.) The same can be said for those monstrous telephone Yellow Pages... I have not used one of them in a very long time either.

Neuharth figured it out 26 years ago when he started USAToday. Shipping electrons is cheaper and more efficient than shipping dead trees. Too bad in all that time he (or anyone else, apparently) couldn't figure how to take advantage of his revelation. Now they are being forced too.

It will, in any event, be interesting to see what all that talent (the laid off newspaper people) can do with the modern methods of spreading knowledge tools available to them.

I am having a tough time dredging up any sympathy. Buggy Whips keep getting in the way.
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Old 02-26-2009, 04:09 PM   #12
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Who has time to read the paper?

HFWR, working slob...
You could read them at w**k
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Old 02-26-2009, 04:56 PM   #13
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You could read them at w**k
Nah, too busy surfing the web working!!
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Old 02-26-2009, 05:16 PM   #14
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...<SNIP>.....

I think newspapers do a better job than any other medium in unearthing local corruption and bringing essential local issues to light. TV is to focused on the glitzy stuff--viewers won't sit still for a 2 minute story about the impact of a zoning change. The internet (blogs, Twitter, etc) produces very little new information, and there's no one to sift the junk and stand behind a story.

....<SNIP> . .
I agree. Here in Metro Detroit, the Free Press is going to 3 days a week home delivery with fresh on line content on the other 4 days. The Free Press broke open the corruption and perjury scandal that sent the Detroit mayor to prison. Without their oversight this crook would still be in office.
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Old 02-26-2009, 05:24 PM   #15
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I agree. Here in Metro Detroit, the Free Press is going to 3 days a week home delivery with fresh on line content on the other 4 days. The Free Press broke open the corruption and perjury scandal that sent the Detroit mayor to prison. Without their oversight this crook would still be in office.
Just so everyone understands, I agree whole-heartedly with what you are saying. It's that I believe dead trees are no longer the most efficient way to influence public behavior in the manner you describe.
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Old 02-26-2009, 05:39 PM   #16
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I one of those who still likes to read the local morning newspaper and subscribes to it.

The reality is that local events have a far greater impact on daily life than events in some far-away place. If there is repaving going on out on I-81 I want to know about that.

I don't really care about Octomom.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:48 PM   #17
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I agree. Here in Metro Detroit, the Free Press is going to 3 days a week home delivery with fresh on line content on the other 4 days. The Free Press broke open the corruption and perjury scandal that sent the Detroit mayor to prison. Without their oversight this crook would still be in office.
Memories!! Used to stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to the GM Tech Center. Every morning-same thing. Two chocolate covered cake donuts and keep the coffee coming. Read the Free Press every morning for all my years living in Warren. Now it looks like we might lose both the Free Press and GM. Now that I'm in Tampa, seems like I still gotta have the Tribune in the morning. Got to see the sports page first. Coupons pay for my subscription. I don't save anything less that $.50. Sometimes we go coupon shopping. We take all our coupons, review for necessity,discard the rest and go to the store and only buy those items. May not need it today but maybe next month. Works for us.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:52 PM   #18
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You can read the Chicago Tribune stories on the net before you even get the paper--Saturday afternoon for stories in Sunday's paper, for example. But I would still subscribe to the print edition no matter what.

No one else will dig into bad government, for example, like newspapers, imho, but once they started giving content away they shot themselves in the foot. The music industry almost went down that path but was able to reverse it to a great extent--people don't mind spending $ on iTunes, Napster (does Napster still exist?), etc. now. Someone likened the newspapers' posting content on their internet sites to a Hollywood studio spending bazillions on a Brad Pitt movie and then three days before its release in theaters offering it for free online.
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:50 PM   #19
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I think newspapers do a better job than any other medium in unearthing local corruption and bringing essential local issues to light. TV is to focused on the glitzy stuff--viewers won't sit still for a 2 minute story about the impact of a zoning change. The internet (blogs, Twitter, etc) produces very little new information, and there's no one to sift the junk and stand behind a story.
I agree with you about the local newspapers (and the "new media") but, that doesn't say much. The newspapers can only be as good as the reporters and editors. Both are a product of our educational system - no history, economics, analysis, logic etc. Most newspaper writers are generalists - meaning they studied journalism in school and then go out and cover every story subject. What other industry, sill in existence is primarily run by generalist?

Also, since Watergate, newspapers have become cynics instead of critics of what is happening. Did the politics of the newspapers have something to do with their losing of there readership? It might have.

Add to all of this the internet, TV and the dumbing down of the American public and newspapers become an anachronism.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:13 AM   #20
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February 27, 2009 12:01 AM

The End

Well, folks, this is the last cartoon I'll draw for the Rocky Mountain News. I've had a wonderful run for the last 31 years, producing more than 8,000 drawings. It's the career I dreamed of having when I was a kid, and it's been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I've had the great good fortune over the years of toiling for editors who appreciated my skills and who believed in the editorial freedom a cartoonist needs to do the best work, even when they disagreed with my opinion. I've worked with more talented journalists than I can possibly name. I'm especially grateful to the many loyal readers of the Rocky for having given my long career meaning. Thank you for your comments, kind and critical, over the years. It is you who have kept the discussion, so vital for a vibrant democracy to flourish, alive all these years. I will miss hearing from you.

Although my work here is finished, I will continue to cartoon for my syndicate. I'll be posting those cartoons on my new website at edsteinink.com (it will be up shortly). If you wish to contact me--and I hope you will--my email address is edstein2@gmail.com.

Ed Stein
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