The New York Press Association is spending $4 million on ads like this one:
Can anyone look at this ad and conclude that the problem was the lack of a community newspaper? My first thought was that the kid was probably pissed because Dad didn’t bother to Google the carnival site. The other ads in this campaign are about as bad.
In Rochester, the “community newspaper” is part of the Gannett empire, and its readership is shrinking almost as fast as its page count. Meanwhile, the locally-owned alt-weekly is growing, probably in part because it has a better event calendar. And we have a community wiki with over 10,000 pages, including pretty good restaurant reviews. I’m actually looking forward to the demise of the “community newspaper”, since its decline has led to the growth of other, more interesting alternatives.
I just figured those two had missed a Tea Party event.
this ad demonstrates that Papers still dont know why they are antiquated. Not only would I use the Google, but I would use it on my Blackberry as I was leaving the house just to be safe.
A smug ad telling me that I am stupid for not getting the importance of a community paper does not seem to have the right tone…..tools.
Undercover FBI Agent DougJ
The ad would have been more effective if they had spelled carnival differently.
Those two ARE the Tea Party event.
The photo says, “Oh, shit. The last car in the rental car lot always sucks.”
My “community paper” is owned by a John Birch Society family on the other side of the state.
If anything, to me this reminds me of the fact that information in papers is old and static. Maybe due to weather conditions or something about permits the location changed. But, of course, the ad in the paper (which was probably produced and approved days prior) does not have this updated information, nor can printed paper be updated. This is why, even if I see it in the paper, I always double-check things on the web. That gets updated with current news, problems, cancellations, location changes, etc.
Anything I read in the paper I interpret as “what was the most likely scenario given the information they had a few days ago.” Increasingly, this is not the best option.
Its sort of like when my 75 year old father pulls out the yellow pages to see where store X is located.
I thought this would have been more effective if it said: “If his mom had read the community newspaper, she’d have known about the rash of child abductions in empty parking lots.”
It’s almost as though the newspapers themselves have forgotten why they exist.
Also, is it me or does that picture look like it was shot in the 70s? What the heck is up with that haircut?
As a former calendar editor for an alt-weekly, I smiled at this notion.
Can’t be the 70’s. Cargo shorts weren’t common in the 70’s. Car’s too new, too.
I think this sentiment could be extrapolated to most traditional media outlets these days, to be honest with you. But newspapers would certainly be the penultimate representation of that sentiment.
The Main Gauche of Mild Reason
Are they trying to suggset Yelp/Citysearch are inefficient for these sorts of things? This whole idea of a newspaper “event calenda” is so quaint and outdated.
kommrade reproductive vigor
This doesn’t make me want to read my community paper. This makes me want to start an advertising agency so I can get filthee reeech by churning out crap campaigns. I reckon this one took what? Five minutes, maybe.
” I’m actually looking forward to the demise of the “community newspaper”, since its decline has led to the growth of other, more interesting alternatives.”
And when the D&C is gone, which of those “more interesting alternatives” is going to do actual journalism, like, say, spending months getting to the bottom of a sweetheart deal to do a half-assed job of cleaning up toxic waste at a closed factory? Who’s going to send a reporter to the Frozen Four to cover the RIT hockey team (a
much bigger Cinderella than Butler? Etc., etc.
Real news-gathering costs real money, much more than an alternative weekly can generate from ads for futon stores and escort services. You will miss it when it’s gone.
I think it looks like they’re about to be attacked by zombies.
If only Newscorp could buy ALL newspapers and tv stations, this problem would be solved. Why does Obama hate capitalism?
The local appeal loses some of its rhetorical force when one considers that it’s appearing in a region that had two daily newspapers until 1997. Morning and afternoon editions managed to partially address the update problem, even before the Internet. But never mind all those Times-Union delivery boxes, “progress” marches on, and less coverage was a great idea. Weird how pointing out so bluntly that a community’s readership doesn’t matter gets taken so seriously by a community.
To be fair to Gannett, though, they did get their start in Rochester … before relocating to Virginia in the eighties. You know what? Screw ’em with a tightly-rolled copy of City.
This is my big concern about the fall of our current news system – both print and TV. I don’t know what is going to fill the void. Blogs are great, but at the moment they usually quote “reputable sources” rather than have their own team of journalists writing and creating new sources.
I’m interested in what’s happening at TPM. Their readership is increasing and maybe they’ll be a new model for actually doing the legwork that used to be done by established news organizations. I don’t know, but maybe.
I don’t mind if crappy news organizations shut down, but I worry about what will take their place.
Maybe it depends on where you live, but the community papers in my area are pretty widely read (in terms of percent of the community, obviously not in terms of number of readers). There’s nowhere else to go for local politics and the kinds of local issues that people not otherwise aware of government get worked up about.
Or maybe it depends on whether the local really is a local, as opposed to a generic product produced 1000 miles away with some pseudo-local stuff pasted in.
We have a locally-owned daily that I subscribe to and read probably every third day. They have amazing saturation, although they do little or no investigative reporting. I can find out if a local official is actually indicted, but I can be confident the newspaper had nothing to do with that. They seem to make an almost deliberate effort to not reveal anything at all until it’s a public record. The editorial page is all syndicated columns, it runs about 3 to 1 conservatives, but that reflects the readership.
I don’t know if we’re unique, but everyone gets the paper, and most people read it.
I always assumed the comprehensive coverage of area high school sports was the big draw, although I don’t follow that.
As someone who currently earns my income through Gannett (I’m not an employee obviously, I’m contracted), I have to admit that they are taking steps to add more advertising on additional days.
I went back into newspaper delivery almost three months ago after being out of it for a few years (I used to be in delivery management for a Scripps paper back in FL after I was a carrier first) – I have to say that while I understand circulation is down over the last few years, my customer’s subscriptions are remaining fairly steady over the last almost three months that I’ve had this route.
We’ve recently added ads to our Thursday paper.
I agree. The newspaper in the closest city to me uncovered a huge state scandal in workers comp, and actually ended up uncovering corruption all the way through, leading to indictments and convictions. I don’t read it every day, but I pay for it, and I get it. It’s worth every penny, as far as I’m concerned.
I buy a newspaper for news, not for listings of events or to find out what some guy I don’t know says about a restaurant.
Blogs, wikis, etc., are not going to become news-gathering sources on a par with newspapers until they are funded on a par with newspapers. My local daily recently spent $250,000 on a series of investigative reports that prompted new state legislation. What blog, what wiki, has the talent and the funding to do that?
Face it, if newspapers and cable TV did not exist, at least 80 percent of blog posts wouldn’t exist, either, including this one.
If and when a blog or something similar does acquire the funding to employ paid professionals to find and write the news, the only thing distinguishing it from a traditional newspaper is the publication mode.
I dunno, the ad is too nebulous to really draw eyeballs, but I like a good newspaper. Problem is, there’s too damn few good newspapers. Even my own tiny town paper has the reporting skills of gerbils. The one area it should be up to date and effective is local issues and it’s not. There’s a blogger who does better coverage than the reporter. I know them both and I can’t understand why the paper is much less informative. If there was good reporting, newspapers wouldn’t be trying existential ads.
i don’t know about you guys, but plenty of local bloggers cover local politics often-times better than the papers. and the local free weekly paper out of the triangle in NC does pretty good long-form investigative journalism as well as supporting local culture. and they pay their writers/reporters and sell ads.
They should have put a plug in for the racing form in the ad. Take the kid to the track instead, and teach him how to win a trifecta.
David in NY
I don’t get the point of the post, exactly. Slamming the ads — who cares? Slamming one “community newspaper,” while praising another — so what? Internet triumphalism — not exactly, and not particularly supported by the post anyway.
C’mon, you guys can do better.
But let me add, when our community newspaper in Columbia County, NY, went bust (because a conglomerate ate it up, took on too much debt, and declared bankruptcy) it was an incredible loss. Largely because nobody knew what was going on anymore, in local politics and events, which is sort of the point of the ad you picture. Our individual towns are pretty much ignored by local TV (unless there’s a murder or a big fire), internet coverage is spotty as usual, and the papers in the bigger “cities” concentrate on their local stuff.
Thank god that the guy who acted as actual publisher of the community paper has started up a replacement, which keeps us oriented to what’s going on in local politics and, yes, town events.
Its just a really creepy ad: why is it at night? why are the dad and the kid alone? who appeals to their potential readership by implying that everyone’s an idiot who deserves to lose? You could have phrased and shot the same ad with an entirely different valance. Its just incredibly meanspirited and it leaves the reader with a depressed feeling. Visually and emotionally it strips the “community” from “community paper” and makes the reader feel like an alienated schmuck. And its all the dopier because if you are reading it you are already reading newspapers, so shouldn’t be chastised.
Holy shit! I knew I should have listened to Tim LeHaye…
Daddy! I need to go to the bathroooooom
Not now, Joshua
Our local paper is a Gannett product. Before it was owned by Gannett when we still had a morning and an afternoon paper, both did a good job of providing publicity for community events. The remaining paper does not. They see such reporting as free advertising – even if it’s a well attended non-profit function. So, you want to know what’s going on around town? Don’t look to the newspaper!
Both RocWiki and City Paper were invaluable resources when I moved to Rochester. I happily read the City every week but, yeah, the other “alt” weekly from the D&C was mediocre when I first moved there and only got worse when it rolled up into that national MixMaster or whatever the hell it was called.
I would say that the point of the post is to highlight the disconnect of the New York Press Association’s ad campaign with the realities of why those community papers–who are too busy saying “Told Ya”, Nikki Finke style–are actually going out of business. That there is a general sense of tone-deafness to the individuals these newspapers are supposed to be informing and illuminating when they still believe that the bare bones “event calendar” they feature in their publications are somehow more effective and compelling than a quick Google search or Yelp or any number of new media creations that have risen to fill the void left by newspapers such as these over the years.
Who cares about slamming the ads? I don’t know, maybe the numerous people who frequent this site and engage in all kinds of discussions about media criticism and the future of the news industry in this wild new frontier called The Digital Age?
You call those captions?
Hey Dude! Where’s my bigwheel?
Bobby cried the day the circus came to town.
How can we miss you when you won’t go away?
I have been really discouraged by the disintegration of the D & C in the last couple of years. Rochesterians used to get fairly good reporting via the two dailies. Now, Monday’s paper is not worth the gas to deliver it; it is frequently smaller than a Pennysaver.
We were contacted last year on a subscription drive. We could subscribe for the weekend for one low price. A few months later, they called back and offered the Thursday edition at no extra cost. Then later it was another sweetener. I took them all, figuring I would read the sports page during my son’s swimming season. I can count on one hand the number of times there was actually any coverage of his swim meets or any others. This winter was all wrestling and hockey, probably because Pittsford HS had a winning, but rather lackluster swim roster. (Inside Monroe County joke.)
I would miss Mark Hare’s column terribly if the D&C folded, but that is about all. My folks are in Erie Pa, and while their paper is no great shakes, they get more and vastly better comics. Except for that damnable Mallard Fillmore.
Our local paper is a good local paper. It keeps me up to date on what’s going on around town. We have web based community calendars and a community wiki and bloggers and on and on – but there is a lot of convenience in opening the calendar section and see what’s coming up.
It could be a great local paper if they would incorporate citizen journalists. They have too few hired-people covering politics and business and the info tends to be thin gruel. Why not pay people for articles your editors have vetted? Or have your journalists vet the articles? Typically passionate citizens know a shit-ton more than the journos do about specific issues.
Just Some Fuckhead
When I was a kid, we drove to the amusement park. When we were almost there, a sign said Kings Dominion Left. So we turned around and went home.
licensed to kill time
All that’s missing for a “Left Behind” vibe are the piles of empty clothing on the ground.
I think the odd thing about all this is that back when I used to devour a newspaper on a daily basis, I was reading it for the news content, not for the local events and classified ad stuff — in other words, not the stuff that they currently believe is the bread and butter.
It was when they started to empty out the news content that I stopped buying and reading the paper.
I’ve been following this story for a while now, and I’ve been looking forward to the release of this video for quite some time now. Here a couple of primers from Gawker, which has done some outstanding work following this story, on the background behind the video released today by Wikileaks:
Exclusive: Secret-Sharing Website Wikileaks Offers New Details On Alleged U.S. Surveillance
Wikileaks.org to Screen Classified U.S. Air Strike Video Monday
EDIT: Apparently, the video released today depicts an attack in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. I am unsure if the other video mention in the Gawker reports will be screened at another time.
For me, the sign newspapers are done: my 80-year-old parents recently announced they were dropping their subscription to the daily paper in their mid-sized, Mid-Atlantic city. They had subscribed since moving to the community 25 years ago. The paper had thinned out so much that my parents felt it was no longer worth the cost.
I’m 30 years younger, and really the only times I buy newspapers any more are to take them to restaurants to read while eating lunch or dinner. Once we get a reasonably spill-proof iPad-like tablet device, I think I’ll be ready to cut out papers entirely. :-)
How’s this for a headline?
What? Too soon?
Somebody should have a captions contest with all the ads on the site this linked to. Tremendous opportunity for hilarity.
The best paper in the Phoenix area for investigative reporting and local interest stuff is the New Times, a free weekly.
The daily, Gannett-owned Arizona Republic is always two-steps behind.
okay, we are burrying the lede here.
what this ad, and the others are saying is, with out us y’all are a bunch of dumbfucks…
so, while they still exist, lets take the time to measure their success and quality, by the relative amount of dumbfuckery in the world…
also…are they saying in the one ad they can prevent slip and falls? could they then be liable or partially liable if hazardous conditions persist?
what about mis-information? are they saying they can be sued for misinforming people to the point of causing damages?
oh yeah, and without the molester getting timmy sugar high on cotton candy and carnival treats, making him feel special. maybe the molester doesn’t get to second base…
stop child predators! cancel your subscription!
i’ll miss the free community paper. it’s good for starting the fireplace up in the winter and the charcoal chimney in grilling season.
I generally know when the carnival is in town because the roller coasters and ferris wheels tower over everything, making their presence known even to those with limited faculties.
Community newspapers can’t fix stupid.
Maybe I’ll miss newspapers when they’re gone. I already miss journalism, and if newspapers committed more of it, they might not be dying so fast. What the Demagogue & Comical offers is AP wire stories and lame cartoons about rightwing ducks. Pointing out that alt weeklies aren’t strong on expensive journalism doesn’t make a Gannett paper indispensable.
I like my local papers, I’d rather have them available than the current media congloms. And yes, i know there are networks of “local” papers, but I’d rather prop up the weeklies of Village Voice media than the NYT or WaPo at this point.
It’s not just Rochester. It’s all over New York State. I think between Rochester and Albany, I count one independent paper from a city with a population greater than 10,000 – the Rome Sentinel. It’s only sold in the City of Rome and nowhere else, and there’s barely enough paper there to line a bird cage. Our “big paper,” the Utica Observer-Dispatch, which is also sold in Rome, by the way, is also a Gannett paper, and it shows. I have never read a more generic McPaper in my life, and no one would miss it if it disappeared tomorrow.
Unless the Dad in that photo is a 15-year-old high school student, I’m not sure why he’s wearing cargo shorts.
The alt-weekly in Rochester isn’t really good at all. Their “Best of Rochester” was an absolute disgrace. I can’t believe they even published that crap.
Charles Krauthammer’s latest syndicated column was on page A11. But you missed it. Now you’ll never know how the Democrats are destroying life as we know it forever.
Your Community Newspaper
p.s.: Ziggy this week was a hoot. But you wouldn’t know that, would ya? Eh?
Irony alert: Nobody’s reading that ad.
Their nominees probably paid good money for their awards.
There is, and always will be, a market demand for news. There isn’t a market demand for dead trees.
What makes you think blogs will not be able to fill the gap when newspapers no longer are available to do the real reporting? The more successful blogs are profitable and already ARE paying for reporters. It is a non-issue.
The funny thing is this could even more easily be an ad for the local community wiki, which would be able to carry event cancellations or changes immediately while the newspaper’s event listing on p2 could have led them horribly astray, or failed to warn them about the zombie attack at sunset.
Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? In Phoenix, the New Times has beat the Arizona Republic like a drum on corruption and long-form investigations for decades. Josh Marshall’s TPM has broken more DC political stories with a handful of reporters getting paid through web ads than the WaPo. And over the last five years, if you really wanted to know what was going on with the economy or the markets the last damn place you looked was the WSJ or (much worse) the AP-filled business pages of your local paper.
The demands of in-depth reporting actually favors alt-weeklies. Daily papers don’t have the staff or the space for long pieces that require weeks of reporting before the first story is filed. They and the wire services are organized to cover the news of that day on a couple hundred different stories and move on. A months-long investigation requires taking a reporter out of his or her daily work, which means someone else has to cover those stories. When the big story is finished, the editor and publisher have to decide if they are going to cut a huge amount of their regular coverage to get it into print, or if they’ll run a bigger paper that day and lose money.
Alt weeklies are different. They’re organized around those big cover stories that can take weeks to put together. A weekly may only have six reporters on staff, but at any given time one or two of them are going to be working on very long (10K words or more) stories like you’re talking about. The other four are going to be doing shorter pieces to fill out the upcoming issue. (Plus the movie/music/restaurant reviewers and columnists.)
The dirty secret of the dying newspaper story is that it is concentrated in the big chain operators. Locally owned papers – the real community papers – are holding their own for the most part. They didn’t take on huge amounts of M&A debt, they don’t have layers of expensive corporate overhead to pay for, and (most importantly) they didn’t fall in love with an army of overpaid
bullshit vendorsmedia consultants to redesign their papers every two years. Instead of firing reporters and closing entire desks the smart publishers beefed up their local coverage and made themselves indispensable to their communities. Their profits are down, but they are still profitable and they’re going to be here even if Gannett and Tribune Corp aren’t.
i think blaming anything posted online is a red herring.
if this were true, then the decline of newspapers would not just be an american problem, it would be a global problem. internet connectivity, and participation would porportionally match declines in newspaper readership, worldwide…
if one wants to prove or disprove the notion that video killed the radio star, its not that hard.
@#52 – Another thing I heard about newspapers in Upstate New York is that they could be going regional. So if you live within, oh, 100 miles of Syracuse, your paper will be the Post-Standard. All those other McPapers, like the Watertown Daily Times, the Utica O-D, the Rome Sentinel, etc., will go away, and you get the “Post-Standard (name of county) Edition” instead. If you’re lucky, you might also get the (Albany) Times-Union (name of county) Edition” as well.
I refuse to believe that the local paper is dead. What’s dead is buying up tens or hundreds of local papers… using tons of credit… then slowly dismantling them. Most “local” papers aren’t local anymore. They’re all third party content.
Worse yet: we have a community newspaper that’s lousy, but pretty much the only source of local news. I might subscribe, but instead I have their RSS feed and a bookmark to their local pages for free. I’m sure they make a few cents on the advertising — you have to click through enough pages to actually read anything.
Perhaps, the newspaper should have run this ad:
“Our journalist get the facts, do their legwork, go in-depth to find all the answers.”
Supposedly we live in the information age, but really, it’s more like the mis-information age? This Ad sounds like the paper’s only interest is being an over-priced town event scheduling notice. Hell, we could cut out all those pages and just print out a flyer, couldn’t we?
Perhaps one of these day’s, the newspapers, as well as those magazines like TIME and Newsweek will remember that they were suppose to be selling the news, not politically motived opinions and incitement. That ad is actually pretty telling about sad state of journalism today, it shows the horrible decline of even or local newspapers. Jeebus!
“Perhaps one [day] … [papers] will remember that they were suppose to be selling the news”
Not since the 19th Century. What the papers, and media in general, really sold during the 20th C, and do now, was readers to advertisers. The news happens to be one way to do that. Of course, cover it the wrong way and you upset the advertisers; previously that mattered more than upsetting a small faction of the readership. The right-to-reply that the internet provides has changed what can be got away with. But traditional media, and more relevantly perhaps traditional advertisers have underestimated the degree to which they need to take that into account.