Another local newspaper almost bites the dust

A girl holds The Washington Post of Monday, Ju...

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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


14 thoughts on “Another local newspaper almost bites the dust

  1. Our local newspaper has decided to become a weekly instead of daily which is sad but confess to not buying it very often because I read the news on the internet so I can’t complain can I? Use it or lose it!

    • Exactly Gilly. I talk to many people who say they “never” read the local paper. Then of course, they are missing exciting stories like the one about the escaped bull, and other local news that never makes it to any news websites. But, perhaps ignorance is also bliss.

  2. I used to work in newspapers, so this doesn’t surprise me. I think the problem is that some of the people running newspapers don’t really understand the Internet. They don’t understand how people read online. Heck, a lot of papers didn’t really acknowledge the Internet until it had been around for 10 years, and, by then, the damage was done. It’s a real shame.

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Todd. Although, it’s hard to believe that newspaper persons, and especially in this case, where the newspaper company hired new people to work on this, that they would not “get” how to make a user-friendly version of the paper to read online. Instead, they stupidly make the online version a “picture” of the actual paper, thinking perhaps that it will please people who are used to reading the paper edition, but instead they just make it so hard to use that folks will either give up, or run out and buy the paper edition.

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  4. I think we’ll see the demise of the last print newspaper within the decade, as more and more readers choose to get their news online. I still like reading the newspaper over a cup of tea at breakfast, but I was also one who said I would never get an e-reader, and now I have a Nook and an iPad. Things change.

    • Yes, things do change Susan, and fortunately, we tech savy over-fiftyers are able to keep up. Sometime even better than the younger folks. I have a Samsung Galaxy player and I’m getting the hang of it, but I confess that some things still mystify me about it. But our local paper is so cumbersome that I probably won’t try reading it on there, at least until they come up with something better.

  5. Good grief! Our paper has reduced, combined, deleted, and shrunk the page size. Still readable, and we still subscribe. I like being able to read something on paper.

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