Sunday, March 25, 2007

Letter to Newspaper Editors

Alas, my Curmudgeon side has arisen. My fangs are showing. I am finally rebelling against the tyranny of the newspaper trade. After spending my entire Sunday Morning reading the Spokesman-Review, I have decided to fight back.

In this era of reduced readership, they still don't get it. Marketing is what it's all about. No, not producing more ads. That is part of the problem, but I'll get to that later. There are two issues in selling. One is content. The other is style. Wait! there is a third one that relates to readership. It for my purposes will be called "User Friendly."

While I sometimes have a problem with content, that is a subjective argument which isn't part of my bitch here. Our paper, and most others, as taught in all of the great schools of journalism teaches several annoying things.

The first and perhaps the worst sin is the "jump." For those of you not steeped in the hoary traditions of the trade, this is where a story starts out in a promenent position, usually the front page, teases you a little, then continues on an obscure later page, not only hard to find, but not even on an opposing page. This requires, then, either a Wilt Chamberlain reach, or you have to try to fold the paper back.

Folding the paper is an exercise requiring the utmost patience. I do not always possess this desirable trait. Since recycled paper was put into use, folding a page back has become an adventure. After exercising the tricky whip motion three times, I usually just rip hell out of the paper until what I want appears. Sometimes that never happens, since in my fury, it has degenerated into confetti which then requires even more effort.

People, if you are trying to keep me as a print customer, you have to make it easy to read, not harder. Example: Page one story jumps to page six. If it had jumped to seven, at the very least, the story would have faced me, not requiring the aforementioned fold back. How about the back page, which would have been easier. Oh, can't do that. You sold me out for the extra money earned from an advertiser for NOT burying their ad.

Comic section. While I read every section (except ads) in the paper, I savor the comics for a chuckle or two which offsets some of the hostility you have created in the previous ones. Wait!The front page of this section is obscured by an obnoxious half page ad, over lapping it. Not only is it overlapping, but it is attached to the right hand edge causing more effort. This is by this Curmudgeon, considered an unfriendly act. I do have to lose 10 or 15 pounds, but if you think for a minute that I'm going to do business with these creepos after pissing me off with their foldout, forget it.

O.K., I understand your point. Advertisers are what makes the wheels turn. Wrong!

Readers do. Why? Because it is always about circulation numbers. You lose reader, thence circulation, thence advertisers. You want to sell papers? Try selling them to us, not them. Advertisers follow the money, not the style. Say no to them a few times, increase readership and they will come to you anyway.

To finish this lengthy diatribe, If you are a company that is sponsoring a football game, you sell the product, ergo a winning team, not the ads that follow. As always, I'm surprised I had to say these things. It appeared obvious to me.

4 comments:

Don Sausser said...

I understand that when the CDA Press’ new press is operating the paper will be downsized a bit in both dimensions. Assuming that you subscribe to both papers, that might ease your painful folding exercises.

Bay Views said...

Bad assumption, Don ...

Bill McCrory said...

Herb,

We, too, are annoyed by the fold-over on the comics (We should clarify here. We're talking about Peanuts, Doonesbury, etc, not the latest antics of those yucksters, the Coeur d'Alene Mayor and City Council, otherwise known by their professional names "Sandi and the Headnodders"). We simply tear them off and toss them in the recycle box. If we're especially irritated by them for some reason, we write the advertiser and complain about their advertising in the S-R. The Press isn't much better, just more even-handed. It loads up every page with ads so you have to dig out the magnifying glass to see such newsworthy drivel as a photo of some banker giving an oversized check for $100 to someone. And they wonder why dead-tree journalism is endangered...

Bill & Lisa

mamaJD said...

I often don't read the comics anymore because of the flap ad. In fact, every time I see the furniture store on that had been on the flap ad, I think of the flap ad and remind myself not to go in.