Saturday, April 26, 2008

Now there's a switch

At the same time newspapers are lamenting a decline in circulation and popularity, they are contributing to it by eliminating some of their most faithful customers.

In the years I covered Lapeer County I was constantly frustrated by the reality that the Flint Journal would not, for reasons of economy, deliver newspapers - even when people really wanted it - to rural areas in the county. Mind you, these were areas that we spent time covering news events.

The answer was it cost too much to give the paper to too few people. My suggestion was that the paper try and salt the route. In other words, if you had someone who wanted the paper at the end of Boon Dock Road, give away a few free papers along the way there and see if you could pick up a few more subscribers and make the route worthwhile.

Those suggestions were dismissed out of hand. In part, because a long time ago newspapers divested itself of ownership of its own routes and turned them over to private contractors. Those contractors sometimes, and understandably, balked at taking on expensive customers. It might have been different if newspapers had maintained control over their own routes. So we voluntarily collapsed our circulation with the resulting collapse in news coverage. It's a business model that I will never understand.
The same was true of the daily paper coin boxes which are likewise controlled by independent contractors. I don't know if this is still true, by the paper box at the front door of the Flint Journal belonged to an independent contractor and at times would be emptied early in the day. That led to the ridiculous situation where people couldn't buy a newspaper at the front door of the Flint Journal (they could, of course, come inside and purchase one at the counter, but why?) and the newspaper couldn't refill it, because it didn't belong to them.

If someone really wants your product, doesn't it make sense to find a way to get it to them?

Anyway, the Flint Journal is not alone, consider the following link:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Table manners training brings big bucks

Just watched an ABC World News report about a woman who runs classes to teach children table manners. Presumably parents are outsourcing this former duty to an expert who charges $50 a lesson.

At the risk of stirring another debate on a non-newspaper topic, I deplore this trend of parents turning over basic household training to strangers.

Teaching table manners was a nightly event at our house. Today, there are apparently so few family dining opportunities that now some parents are seeking outside help.

It didn't take many nights for my mother and her vise like grip to teach me and my brother, Mike, the basics of holding a fork, wielding a knife and scooping up peas with a spoon.

My mother also taught my brother and I the correct way to set a table (fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right, etc.).

We had real family dinners, complete with conversation and, gasp, no television while we were eating. Can you imagine?

But, on the other hand, with the export of so many high paying jobs, maybe the Miss Manners service training will offer great opportunities to the legions of newspaper people currently looking for work.

Many of the fine journalists I know could teach your children the best way to pour a beer without overflowing the foam and the proper way to unwrap, hold and eat a hamburger at your desk. Give them a try, many could use the $50.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Free From Editors fun facts

Free From Editors has been on line since late November 2007. On March 31 I signed up for a Google Analytic program that keeps a general track of my blog traffic. It doesn't identify specific visitors, but it does break them down by country and server.
In just three weeks keeping track, I've had visitors from 13 countries, including the U.S. Obviously, most of the traffic coming here is around the U.S.

Here are the countries, in addition to the U.S., that have visited the site: Canada, UK, France, Germany, Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Turkey, India, Australia, China and Thailand. Now if only I could find a way to transport myself to each place that has viewed this blog.

Nearly 500 visitors here in less than a month of keeping track, thanks for stopping by.

Just for fun.... is now so popular (well over 4,000 posts now) that they are offering a line of t-shirts (see one here). Just for comparison, is now at 116 posts in almost the same amount of time.
Many of the happy comments are not so happy either. For example on "I’m happy because the news editor who has been pissing and moaning all week is leaving. Good riddance."
Doesn't sound so happy to me. And they are not offering t-shirts, at least not yet.

In addition to the "Angry Journalist" shirt they also have t-shirts that say the following: Print is dead - Journalists get laid (off) and -30-

A line of coffee cups and beer mugs is coming, the site said.

By the way, if you don't know what -30- means, you are showing your age and experience. Not a slam, just a fact.

So if you're looking for a gift for that special someone, go to (link is to the right).

I'd get one, but I'm neither angry nor a journalist anymore.

More bad news for Oakland Press, Journal Register Co.

Saw a link on another website posted by former colleague Sue C. who points out that many of us have friends at the Michigan publications owned by this company. The company has already decimated its ranks so it boggles the mind where they can go from here:

Here's a teaser from the story:

Shares of Journal Register, which traded as high as $23.875 a decade ago, on Tuesday closed at 32 cents — cheaper than the newsstand price of a weekday paper.