My local print newspaper has been circling the wagons for some time, trying to stay relevent and financially afloat in a time when news media is trending more towards online content, and less towards large pieces of printed paper delivered to one’s doorstep. I admit I’m a fan of the printed page, but also open to getting my news from other venues, including online, handheld and phone. But I do enjoy sitting down with lunch or a cup of tea, with the newspaper spread out on the counter in front of me, scanning the pages for the parts I want to read. I’m not one of those purists who reads every single item in the paper. I remember my parents diligently reading the entire paper from cover to cover nightly, operating under the belief that if the wise journalists thought it important enough to print it, that it must be something they needed to know.
Instead, I scan the headlines large and small. I skip over news I’ve already gotten the skinny on from other sources. I read all the local news that seems important or interesting. That’s how I came across this gem, that, had I been only reading news online, never would have seen:
Bull lassoed after hours of freedom A Brahma bull got loose near Y avenue and 7th street on Monday and was later captured, said Steve L. of County Animal Services. The bull got loose sometime Monday morning after getting into a fight with another bull, L. said. It wandered for several hours, generating calls to the local sheriff dispatch. Once police were able to locate the owner, he was able to lasso the bull. No one was hurt in the incident. The other bull involved was a Brahma too, L. said.
I know, not earth-shattering news. Had I not heard about this incident, my life still would have gone on. Yet, an interesting local tidbit that brightened my day, with its folksy local tone, reporting on a quaint little incident that reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously in this hyper, 24-hour news cycle world. I especially love the tag “…the other bull involved was a Brahma too…”
But, I digress. After months of planning, wrangling, reorganizing, meeting and hyping, my local paper finally premiered what they consider to be the best solution to keeping the local print newspaper alive, while joining the growing trend of delivering news online. Their answer? Continue to produce a print edition of the paper seven days a week but only deliver it to subscribers three days a week, while producing an online version of the print newspaper seven days a week that is free to print subscribers, and available to non-subscribers for a $6/month fee. Not complicated enough yet? The print version will be available in stores and newsstands for purchase, but the loyal subscribers who want to sit down with this inky tome daily will have to march to the store and pony up additional money to buy it on the four days it is not delivered. And the online version? Sheesh – I couldn’t have come up with a more clunky,ham-fisted, non-user friendly version it I tried. Instead of making it a web page with tabs across the top for news categories, it’s displayed on a split screen with an actual scanned picture of each newspaper page on the left side, and a reading pane on the right side. So, just skim your eyes over the tiny picture of the paper, find something you might want to read, click it, and that article appears in the reading pane on the right. It’s workable but labor intensive on laptops, slow and clunky on tablets and Kindle, and impossible on handhelds and phones.
After months of planning, this is what the new, improved news company came up with? While the news group thinks this is the solution that will keep everyone happy, I see it as a shot in the foot of a medium that’s been flailing for months, that is sure to frustrate and alienate the loyal print subscribers, and do nothing to bring new readers to this forum.
© Huffygirl 2012
- Newspapers Stop Printing Monday Editions (huffingtonpost.com)
- What are the Ramifications of West Michigan Newspaper Cutbacks and the new Mlive Media Group? (derekdevries.wordpress.com)