Sunday, February 15, 2009

They Can't Give That Crap Away

A trip to grocery store today led to one of the saddest sights I've seen in some time, a representative from the local paper, offering to give away copies of today's paper to anyone who wanted to listen to his spiel. This is the Sunday paper, the one paper most people purchase, if not for the wonderful color comics then for he multiple advertising circulars each Sunday paper promises. There was but one problem:
No body wanted any.
I made eye contact with the gentleman as I politely refused his offer, but many other people were probably not as kind, like the people who nod politely at the differently abled greeters at the more upscale supermarket up the road where trophy wives push trophy children in shopping carts equipped with DVD players to prevent the children from ever having a moment where they could actually think, or, use their imaginations. But this store is more decidedly downscale, and most people ignored him like they would the project children who often lurk out front selling seventy-five cent candy bars for three dollars to raise money to fill in the budget deficits their school faces because the only tax people can vote on is the only one that should be raised.
Now, I have many issues with the local paper. Their choice of op-ed columnists (Cal Thomas, anyone?), their lousy writing, but most importantly, their decision many years ago to ban me from the letters to the editor. This is a paper that not only endorsed Bush for two terms, but then went on to endorse McCain/Palin, a ticket whose horrendousness is best exemplified by John McCain's recent inaction during the ongoing economic crisis. And yes, I still hold that whole "propaganda for an illegal war" thing against them.
But I'm not alone. In fact, it would seem that so many newspapers are struggling that the once venerated New York Times is offering survival strategies for dying newspapers.
Face it, print is a dying medium as a way to convey news and information. Television may have helped, but in these lightning quick times, the internet has killed the local paper. And I say good. No more trees chopped down. No more stacks of twine wrapped crap rotting in landfills, or trying to find someone who will actually recycle the damn things. I simply don't have the space to save them until some one some where decides to run a paper drive. So goodbye newspaper, you're as useful as a rotary phone.


Snave said...

Cal Thomas? Eeeeek!!! And you were banned from getting your letters to the editor into the paper? So much for free speech. I would have refused the guy's paper too.

Newspapers seem to be a dying thing in larger areas. I'm not sure about how it's going in small towns in rural areas, like here in NE Oregon.

Our local paper is somewhat right of center. It has Rich Lowry on the op-ed page once or twice a week, it used to carry Cal Thomas and Mona Charon. It also included a token Molly Ivins column once a week until she died.

It does include both Mallard Fillmore and Doonesbury on the comics page, although I think Doonesbury hasn't had any real teeth to it for years, and Mallard is just right-wing talking points disguised as "humor"... truly vile stuff.

Our paper chickened out when it came to endorsing someone for president, claiming "no endorsement"... to me, this meant "Barack Obama" but they didn't want to lose local readership by saying it in print.

I used to write a letter to the editor about every six months or so, but I haven't written one for about a year and a half. Last time I did, an old childhood friend wrote a cheap rebuttal to one of my letters, saying I hold the Republican party to blame for everything I perceive as wrong in the world, and blaming my sour outlook on the fact that I had just turned 50. Well... he turns 50 in July, and I'm ready for his birthday! Heh heh heh!

When I write my next one this summer, he is welcome to make another rebuttal if he likes. He already knows how I will respond! 8-)

Tom Harper said...

Your local paper sounds like mine. Our paper doesn't have editorials, but the owner is so deeply intertwined with the local good old boy network, it's like one of those bad '70s TV shows where a small town is literally owned by a crooked sheriff or rancher.

I've had a few letters published in the paper (and a few that weren't), but there's so much teeth-pulling and hoop-jumping and groveling involved in getting a letter published, it's not worth it.

Lew Scannon said...

Rural newspapers will never die, simply for their entertainment value (who got arrested, who went to court, who had a baby, who got married etc.), but the big town newspapers are on the ropes.
I know what you mean about jumping through hoops: back in 2005, while sending a letter related to the Downing Street memos, I had to email the editor a link to the story because they hadn't heard of it!

daveawayfromhome said...

Aside from comic and circular readers, newspapers have two major groups that use them: people who actually like to sit down and read the newspapers, and bloggers who are seeking "legitimate" information sources for their posts.
Newspapers are still trying to act like they are still the lords of the mass market, rather than of the niche market that they actually still have. Unfortunately, they seem to be hell-bent on trying to alienate the two groups who actually are still interested in order to pursue the general (uninterested) public, and so the readership not only continues to fall, but those who might have otherwise stuck around seek their knowledge elsewhere as well.
This may be one of the reasons that small-town newspapers survive while the larger papers (almost all owned by conglomerates and focused on the masses) are failing miserably: the small town papers have fewer delusions of grandeur.

Kathy said...

The internet has helped kill newspapers, but I also think they helped hasten their demise. Why spend money on a paper (aka business entity) that doesn't even attempt to be fair and balanced?