Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Decline and Fall of the Local Newspaper Revisited

Three years ago, I wrote the below (slightly edited) post.  I'm pleased (?) to report that our local newspaper has continued to find new, creative ways of alienating their remaining audience, including continued shrinking accompanied by regular price increases.  Yes, they are proving that a declining industry can continue to do everything wrong.

Our paper's latest stunt is to send their design to a centralized site. (I'm sure they laid off the local designers but the newspaper, in  the spirit of journalism, isn't reporting that if it did happen.)  The paper is now published in creative, unreadable fonts.  Some of the contact information at the bottom of certain articles is practically microscopic.

But that is nothing new, as this blog post from July, 2009 bears witness to.

The Decline and Fall of The Local Newspaper

Much has been written about the decline of print media. Our newspaper has found new, creative ways to alienate their remaining, loyal audience. What do I mean by loyal? Well, I've subscribed to home delivery of the paper for over 21 years. If that isn't loyal, what is? So let's count the ways our local paper is using to ensure that continued loyalty.

Old Service Method: Classifieds daily, and you could find what you wanted
New Service Method: No classifieds on Monday and Tuesday. I know someone in the newspaper business so I know why they are doing this. There is a logic to this. But what about the other days?

 Last Saturday I looked fruitlessly (no pun intended) for the listing of local farms that were offering U-Pick fruit. I guess they eliminated that too. News Bulletin: people do read the classifieds for reasons other than purchasing cars.

Old Service Method: The comics were visible without a microscope
New Service Method: why has "Cathy" shrunk to a size that middle aged eyes barely can make out while "Baby Blues"has panels twice the size? Is there any logic to the big comic/small comic thing?

Old Service Method: Deliver the paper daily, usually by 5am
New Service Method: For some reason, the last few Thursdays and Fridays, the paper doesn't get delivered until after I leave for work, which....well it's way after 5am. I used to sit down with the morning paper while I ate my cereal. Now, sometimes, it doesn't get read at all. Maybe one day they won't deliver it at all. Let's see if I notice. (and yes, we tip the carrier. My spouse delivered papers as a teen and he remembers it well.)

We won't mention the Incredible Shrinking Newspaper Width (one reduction in December, one reduction this week), the Let's Play with the Fonts so People Can't Read our Paper, and the other games the paper is playing.

I have read newspapers all of my life. My young adult son, on the other hand, has barely opened a paper in my sight, ever, in his lifetime. He isn't alone. And if you keep up the not so great service, Dear Newspaper, the 50 year olds won't be reading your paper either.


  1. Sorry I've been so MIA in the blog world lately. Summertime with kids, what can I say?

    I hate that the newspaper industry is dying, but it's no wonder if they aren't going to change with the times or have excellent customer service/respect.

    1. It makes me sad too, Tia. More and more I find myself getting news off the websites of our local TV stations, especially if it is something other than local news. My husband is the reason why our household is still subscribing to the paper, but he is struggling (at age 60) with the small fonts. Someone, please listen!


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