Wednesday, June 06, 2012

1027 Stop The O-Presses

1027 Stop the O-Presses, Hold the Front Page

It’s lovely, being a pioneer.  For years and years, this blog has been published three days a week.  Now, important publications are following suit, and coming out three times instead of six or seven.

Trend setters, that’s us.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune led the latest cutbacks.  That was quickly followed by its sister papers.  Their schedule is far more confusing than, say, the Christian Science Monitor which went all-digital some time ago, and US News & World Report, one of the former big three of weekly news magazines.  The other two, Time and Newsweek are positively anorexic.

But three days on the doorstep is not going to do it.  “A foolish Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds,” as Emerson said.  Seven days a week (or maybe six) is consistency, but not “a foolish consistency.”

There’s gramps at the front door in the dead of winter... “Do I have to go out to pick up the paper today?  Yeah.”  He bundles up and steps out into the freezing cold and snow and only then realizes “oh, it’s Tuesday.  No paper today.”

The all digital format works for the Monitor.   But the Monitor is a good and well regarded paper with an international following.  Most papers are neither good nor well regarded.  And when they publish in what most readers will consider an irregular schedule, they’ll soon be forgotten.

Publishers figure readers will migrate to their websites and be willing to pay for the privilege. Maybe.  Long Island Newsday, once good and well regarded and now in serious decline killed its entire distance readership by putting up a paywall that is both outrageously overpriced and incomplete.  McClatchy is pondering a similar move.

Those of us who subscribe to the digital New York Times do so because it has such a wide variety of stuff you can’t find anywhere else.  But unless you’re a serious news junkie, there’s no reason to.  You can get most everything by scanning Google News or Yahoo News and then whichever un-mediated, un-edited, un-fact-checked websites suit your particular interests, including this one.

You can get the rest of your news screeched at you by Fox or HLN or CNN which is so boring the makers of sleeping pills want to ban it as unfair competition.

Newspapers (some of them, sometimes) investigate.  TV doesn’t fill that niche and neither will the papers’ websites when they finally cut their staffs down to three guys each working overlapping 18 hour shifts.

That’s an invitation to get away with murder... both political and literal.

How to fix the problem?  It takes a village.  Advertisers and readers have to see the value of print and act on that value.

The barbarians are at the gate and they won’t be held off by the likes of the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report.

Still, it’s nice to be a pioneer and a trend setter, even if the territory is barren and the trend is downward.


Shrapnel:

--In the early days of radio, 24/7 broadcasts were rare.  Stations went on and off sporadically, sometimes with a schedule, sometimes not.  Probably that wouldn’t work today any better than a Sometimes-a-week newspaper.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

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