But instead of improving their product by deploying technology bloggers can’t afford (yet), newspapers are devolving. Many are cutting staff. Daily newspapers are growing smaller and uglier, with no paper looking anywhere near as lovely as Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World from the late 1800s. Comic strips have gotten so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read them. I’m fine with newspapers cutting back on stock tables, but they aren’t adding something new to the package. Most newspapers claim they’ve shrunk their dimensions to combat steep increases in newsprint prices, but that’s a lie.
What else do I want? I want a daily newspaper that looks as good as Vogue but smells like a cinnamon bun instead of perfume. I want smarter newspaper headlines. I want a Mike Royko in every daily newspaper. I want editorials signed by people, so I know who to yell at. I want newspapers to restore editorial cartoonists to their place of honor instead of eliminating them. To broaden the answer, I want the newsmagazines to give me a better reason to read them than remixes of the last four days’ news cycle, and I want them to look like Harry N. Abrams’ coffee-table books.
I want Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to straighten out the production problems at the Washington-area plant that prints the New York Times so it arrives on my doorstep more reliably. I also want more for my Times subscription than TimesSelect and its stingy 100 “free” searches a month from the archives, its News Tracker, and the paper’s columnists.
While I don’t agree with the thrust of his column blaming the Newspaper Guild for resisting job cuts (I mean, honestly? The hell?), I do think he’s right in placing the onus on newspapers to be what they were, rather than become what bloggers are.