Newspaper Critics a Dime a Dozen

The information superhighway is lined with critics peddling their commentary and expectations to the newspaper industry. Self-appointed, self-absorbed “experts” who most likely have never sold advertising in a depressed economy, negotiated contracts with labor unions, kept pace with evolving technology, or planned for fluctuating newsprint prices – all the while meeting payroll, with higher taxes and rising health insurance costs squeezing finances like a socialist python.

Over and over, newspaper critics wind up their Internet squawk boxes and tweet the headline, “Why I no longer subscribe to a newspaper.” A former Los Angeles Times employee, who now blogs for ojr.org (The Online Journalism Review, a foundation focusing on the future of digital journalism) recently used this headline, followed by several reasons he no longer subscribes.

One reason he cited was, “I don’t want to keep paying to encourage financial corruption that ought to be devoted to exposing and building outrage against corruption by others!” Since I subscribe to the same paper he was condemning, I’m assuming he didn’t read or conveniently overlooked the Times’ investigative stories that have made national news. Stories such as Mexico:?a country under siege (a series L.A. Times has been covering since 2008); a story analyzing how effective L.A. Unified School District teachers have been at improving their students’ performance on standardized tests; an investigative story revealing how L.A. Unified School District paid teachers not to teach; and the investigative story exposing city of Bell officials receiving obscenely large salaries.

This same blogger, who left out important facts in his critique, went on to say in his blog, “Spare me the argument that newspapers are the watchdogs of democracy.” Thanks, but I’ll continue to pay for news through the most trusted source available, a newspaper. A society that expects to receive news for free will bankrupt democracy.

A second reason why this blogger stopped subscribing to the Times was the “cheesy and deceptive front page ads.” I’m assuming he was referring to the L.A. Times cover wrap promoting the movie “Alice in Wonderland.”

One would have to be extremely gullible to interpret this promo as deceptive. I saw the cover wrap as clever, and a profitable idea that probably helped pay for several salaries.

The bottom line is newspapers are a for-profit business (not a foundation) and in today’s media world, it’s hard to charge for content that someone else is giving away for free. The “Alice in Wonderland” cover wrap is one example of innovative ideas newspapers can offer advertisers to help generate profit – one tea party at a time.

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