Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Requiem for the Scandal Sheets

About a week ago, Time published an article predicting what major city newspapers will fold in 2009. The fact of the matter is, no major city can sustain having two daily papers anymore, and the down economy will only accelerate the death of the medium. My lament coincides with the last issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which after today will be available online only. Other notable dailies are near their end, including the Philadelphia Daily News and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, both of which have filed for Chapter 11 protection. While my hometown Chicago Tribune grows deeper in debt by the day, it's crosstown rival the Sun-Times has a smaller circulation and fewer resources and probably won't live to see the end of the year.

There are few things that I enjoy more than spending the weekend reading the Sunday papers. To me, that's where the future of the newspaper stands; in a world where news is available it happens, whether on cable TV or online or even on your cell phone, shifting the focus to feature articles and generating revenue via coupons and supplemental ads is the newspaper's most realistic shot at survival. Eschew the daily papers and focus on the weekends. Of course, that's all just wishful thinking; most of these publications are too proud to drop five or six days of the week from their regular deadlines. Another article by Time suggested that newspapers should introduce a fee for all their online content, like a flat monthly subscription or a rate of 5 cents per downloaded article, but I doubt most major papers will adapt to such a daedalian idea.

Other random notes:

+ I'm probably just as annoyed about the whole AIG thing as you are. The decision to give out bonuses --whether or not they were promised long before the bailout, or if the recipients were deserving-- was very poor timing. This is undeniable proof that our nation's banks are out of control, and that the last three presidential administrations have done little to control or regulate their actions.

+ Several months ago, I signed up for a fantasy hockey league and promised to update you on the status of my team. After a hot start, I quickly plummeted to fourth place (out of five) after a string of hair-brained and hair-trigger moves. Shortly after trading Markus Naslund for one of the Niedermeyer brothers at the deadline, I was able to inch my way back into third place, where I remain to this day. With the NHL season winding down (and two teams having already clinched playoff spots) I'm crossing my fingers for a decent finish.

+ As someone who's one-quarter Scots-Irish on my dad's side, let me wish you and yours a Happy St. Patrick's Day.


  1. Regarding charging for online content: I was listening to Bill Simmons' podcast the other day with Chuck Klosterman, and something that came up was that when the internet first hit it big, newspapers should've charged 25 cents (or something like that) to read the online content each day. Now, however, with us used to reading stuff for free, I don't think that would ever fly.

  2. What I enjoy the most from the Sunday paper: the comics, the extended sports section, coupons, the WGN Weather page, letters to the paper, the Live! section, and awful, misguided "Ask Amy" advice column. There are some things the Trib do not put online, and it'd be a total hassle to find all those comics online. I don't like the tabloid Sunday comics format where panels are postage stamp sized. I remember when Calvin & Hobbes came in even bigger than the standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.

    What I don't like about the Sunday newspaper: ink on the fingers, creates a LOT of clutter really fast, and it's almost too big to read it all.

    My suggestion to newspapers, is make them more personal opinions, expand the comics, include stuff like bumper stickers, team photos of all sports teams in the area, pocket schedules, more coupons, more advice columns and make journalism articles extensive. And fyi, I've never paid full price for Arby's :P

    I am so not down about paying for articles online, especially when online articles lack the photo, graphs and graphics that the newspaper has. Plus you bet your ass we'll see bootleg newspaper websites / blogs.

  3. Yahoo does a pretty good job of assembling all the popular newspaper comics on their news feed; check out http://news.yahoo.com/comics.

    As for your suggestions-:I miss seeing freebies like posters and bumper stickers. Cross-promotion never hurt anybody...

  4. I get most of my news off of Drudge or some other websites.

    I'm also part Irish [I have Irish, Italian, German, Dutch, and Cherokee ancestry].

    I hate the AIG thing too, but I don't know if we can subpoena them [like Barney Frank suggested], or tax the money to get it back. It sounds pretty close to a Bill of Attainder to me.

    And I am guessing that the Mark on here is Mark from TV.com... I guess they did an him like he said in his blog.

  5. Yeah it's the same me from TV.com. It's the stupidest banning I have ever seen. Was I getting into fights? No. Was I dropping F-bombs? No. Was I hostile towards other members? Generally, no, but when I did I didn't drag it out, usually. I got banned for a combination of little masked profanities, having an opinion, describing fictional characters, or saying something sucks (this generally a band or actor), something in whatever nature considered a TOS violation under their vast list, or something some pissant idiot thought was offensive, when you know damn well you can say it on network TV. They never answered any emails, PMs & never gave me an explanation. They probably didn't like who I was, or the fact that I didn't contribute much to guides or reviews (my work is on the boards - I had almost 5300 posts) nor did I ever click or see their stupid banner ads, which I found out where totally intrusive and completely lame. This banning was a personal vandetta, probably by some pot-smoking skateboarding hippie Liberal California Cubs fan, tho that's just my assuption.

    Tuesday I celebrated all 0% of my Irish roots with the blue dying of Miller High Life bottles to make a nice deep Kelly Green beer. Blech, I don't miss cheap beer at all, but you sure as hell can't dye Guinness or Sam Adams green.

    Joe - does your dad or mom ever make Italian Beef sandwiches ala Portillo's? I've come to realize how much I really love this thing. Stu knows what I'm talking about.

  6. Stu - Yahoo's list certainly is bigger since the last time I checked it. The thing I didn't like about them is some are in color, some lameass Sun-Times comics, and they're so small. And that only 4 or 5 of Tribune comics I read are on that page. Plus you have to click on each and every one. Wow, Tank McNamara, I haven't see that in the Tribune sports section along with Gil Thorpe since like 1992. What's your thoughts and opinions on the "For Better Or For Worst" strip? I don't find it surprising that the real-life John Patterson left Lynn. She's a very insufferable woman. She reminds me a lot of my mom, who incidentally loves her.

  7. I was banned from TV.com for all of the times I said that The War at Home was a crappy show...

    And the mods at GameFAQs [one of the other CNet sites] have a stick up their ass too. I have been getting in trouble over there for calling people trolls, and saying things that only people with no sense of humor would get mad at. I was suspended for a couple days last week after someone deleted I post I made where I was referencing a moderation I got a couple months ago...

    Basically, I get in trouble for the same things you do.

    And my parents don't make roast beef like that [I don't even know what that restaurant is]. But my dad does go to a local restaurant where they make some Italian food.