People Cared About Their Newspapers and Newspapers Pissed That Away

This is making the rounds of journo Twitter and everybody’s all HEE HEE HEE but honestly, it illustrates the saddest thing about the newspaper debacle currently grinding its way to a miserable end:

People cared about their newspapers. They always did. Newspapers had generational brand loyalty that most companies could only DREAM about. Time was you had a whole IDENTITY built around being a reader of X paper instead of Y. Yeah, everybody bitched but everybody bitches about their baseball team, too, and here we are every opening day. The Milwaukee Brewers have ruined my dad’s life for more than six decades and he still went to spring training to watch them fuck around pointlessly in the Arizona sun because that’s how he loves them. Enough to complain.

People cared about their newspapers and the newspapers’ owners pissed that away. They fired the good reporters, flailed at every internet trend, moved the copy desk to Texas, ran reams of wire copy, cut the paper’s size and shape and delivery schedule, outsourced the distribution to their competitors, and finally just gave up.

For the 20 or so years it took them to accomplish all that they counted on older reporters to yell at younger ones for “taking” jobs, counted on lazy industry hacks to blame the Internet, counted on nobody to watch the money, and counted on never having to market themselves because their customers would never move or die. And all the while people cared about the newspaper.

They complained when the paper wasn’t on the porch. They carped when a section got dropped or a listing got moved. They were enraged when, having paid for seven days of a paper, they got three and no refund. It mattered to them. It mattered to them and they got corporatespeak mishymashy nonsense about embracing the digital future. No wonder they tuned out in record numbers. No wonder they fled.

A.

3 thoughts on “People Cared About Their Newspapers and Newspapers Pissed That Away

  1. I felt terrible about it, but I recently cancelled my delivery of the L.A. Times. The cost of my subscription had more than tripled in 7 years as the paper continued to shrink both in size and quality of content. As I approach retirement, I had to cut expenses where possible, and the Times was something I could live without.

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  2. Peter Adrastos Athas says:

    What happened with the Times-Picayune is this story writ large. They were at the zenith of their popularity and influence and threw it all away.

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  3. David E. Sallis says:

    I still mourn the loss of my beloved Times-Picayune, specifically of the pre-Katrina era. Was a long-time subscriber until the storm blew away the local carriers, and that was the beginning of the end. I had just renewed for the year, also, and they of course kept my money.

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