It’s The Simple Stuff, Stupid

Once again, the Internet is ruining journalism:

*Wet papers. Rain happens. Call the number for circulation; it is printed on Page 4 every day. 1-800-Tribune (874-2863). If you call early in the morning, the circulation department will replace it or give you a credit.

*Ink-smudged pages. A quality-control issue that the paper wants to know about.

*Missing papers (or sections). Things can go astray while producing and distributing nearly 570,000 copies every weekday and more than 940,000 on Sunday so don’t just stew on your driveway or doorstep. Call early for a replacement.

*No more individual stock listings. Horse racing results and merit scholarship winners all were moved online in the last year. This is partly a journalism issue because judgments are made on what to use in the available news space, which is based largely upon how much general advertising support the edition has.

*Crossword puzzle errors. Corrections for puzzles and everything else are posted on Page 2 as soon as the error is discovered.

*Loss of a favorite cartoon. A similar issue occurs when the daily almanac does not note particular anniversaries, especially from World War II. Other days readers want flagged: Flag Day and the anniversary of tragedies such as President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Another crossover issue between journalism and advertising happens when favored features move to different pages or days. Putting the weather map on the inside of the last page in Metro drew protest; so did moving the book review to Saturday from Sunday.

The majority of the list isn’t political bias but the kind of idiot mistakes that get made when you have too much work being done by too few underpaid people, and undervaluing of the basics that readers shouldn’t have to fight over. It’s having to fight over stupid shit that makes people crazy.

But let’s keep cutting jobs, please. That’ll fix it. It’s done such a bang-up job so far.


4 thoughts on “It’s The Simple Stuff, Stupid

  1. I often wonder how much of the newspaper’s problems are caused by the fact that those papers sell for far less than the cost of producing them. This causes the newspaper to become primarily a vehicle for delivering advertising to the public, in order to pay the bills. My Sunday paper is at least 75% advertising inserts and classified ads, usually automobile ads. It takes me just about the same amount of time to read the parts of interest to me in the Sunday edition as in the weekday editions.
    If this is the core problem there really is no solution. People wouldn’t pay the price needed to make the news pay for itself, or even come close. Back in the early 60’s I paid ten cents for a weekday newspaper on the street, and had at least 2 choices of papers. Everything else now costs ten to 15 times as much as then, while the newspaper now costs me 75 cents, with only a single choice, if I can find a paper to buy at all.

  2. Newspapers need to encourage people to keep more birds. And fight against those plastic-wrapped fish.
    Heck, I can even read the comics online now. What do I need the newspaper for again?

  3. This causes the newspaper to become primarily a vehicle for delivering advertising to the public
    I used to work for a little hometown biweekly. There was an editor and the paper belonged to a larger newspaper network. Nonetheless, the regional grocery store chain with their huge 4-color inserts was our real lifeblood.
    [/oversimplified illustration of corporate media]

  4. This kind of thing is why, despite multiple people pressuring me to do so, I stayed professionally far, far away from newspaper writing.

Comments are closed.