Our local newspaper is a Gannett paper and, as much as I worry about smaller newspapers disappearing, I won’t be that sorry to see it go:
North Korea attacks the South … a tense run-up to Congress’s lame-duck session … a cliffhanger local Congressional election on the verge of resolution … implications for special session of State Legislature … controversy over airport body scanners … there’s a scout troop short a child, Krushchev’s due at Idlewild — and here’s November 23rd’s top headline in what passes for a newspaper in Rochester.
Maybe I just don’t understand media very well, but I just don’t see how some bs story that is probably already on every bs pseudo-news website in the world can really drive readership.
By chance, last week, while driving to work, I listened to a local reporter talk on the radio about a slow response to a shooting, the new police chief, speculation about who the new mayor will be etc., all in mind-numbing detail…and it was mesmerizing, like listening to an episode of the “The Wire”, even though I understood only half of it. That has to be more interesting to a lot of people than reading about boomers’ sex lives (right?).
My local paper is also a Gannett rag. We have been a Gannett rag for years and years now. It’s just gotten worse and worse, and it was pretty pathetic to begin with. So yeah, I don’t have a big sad over its demise. It’s pretty fucking pathetic.
Re your last paragraph: that’s the kind of thing our local paper used to be full of, but it requires actually hiring people locally and encouraging them to attend city council meetings, etc. It’s all gone and replaced by wire service tripe. I used to read our local (locally owned) newspaper in total absorption and fascination. Now it takes 30 seconds to breeze through it.
I suppose obsessing about feeble media content is better than obsessively producing feeble media content. Somehow.
This is very simple. A lot of story selection these days is driven by SEO concerns. Everyone is tasked with getting more page views on associated websites. No big secret there. A story tagged with Sarah Palin will get a lot more views than a story about the local county commission. No big secret there either. I’m not saying you have to like any of this, just pointing out the fact.
The Republic of Stupidity
Perhaps the D&C, apparently like so many other individuals and institutions in the country, such as Teabaggers and the GOP, have a secret death wish…
Years and years ago, I delivered the D&C on a morning route over in the Finger Lakes… 60 papers every morning, Monday thru Saturday, 4 to 6 am… paid well at the time and I liked being out so early in the morning, all by myself, on country roads…
GrandpaFromOhio lives in Roch-cha-cha and has the same lament. Whenever he visits here in Ohioland, he loves to dig through the back issues of our ‘real’ newspaper.
I’m thinking annual mail-subscriptions to McClatchy News would make great stocking stuffers.
Props for the Car 54 reference.
Well, Boomers do love reading about themselves, talking about themselves, and mythologizing about their generation. For all the fucking talk about how the under-30s are so narcissistic and self-obsessed that comes from Boomers, they should look in a mirror sometime.
I can’t help but be reminded of the scene from the film Control where Ian Curtis has been diagnosed with epilepsy, specifically told not to drink and stay out late but goes out partying anyway, and when his pregnant wife finds him and asks him to come home, he asks if it’s a good idea for someone with her condition to be in a place like this.
Considering the average age of people who still get their news primarily from newspapers, they probably thought their readership would be wondering if their kids still were having sex.
I remember a passage in a Carl Hiassen book. The local newspaper had only one reporter to cover two different Town Council ( developers central) meetings. The made sure to schedule simultaneously and only did their worst when the reporter was at the other meeting.
Now the papers don’t even bother until it is egregious – like those small towns in California paying their town reps $800k/yr. That was found out after how many years of doing it?
Rachel Barnhart is a weekend anchor at WHAM now? Which is no longer WOKR? Gad, I feel so old and out-of-touch, as usual. At least there’s still Don Alhart to cling to … metaphorically speaking.
But yeah, it’s ironic that the D&C is such a stereotypical fluff Gannett paper nowadays, when it was Gannett’s flagship paper in the pre-USA Today era.
Oh, and my local paper is a McClatchy paper. Extra good since I live in a state capitol, and it’s got pretty good political coverage.
It’s sad to remember when there were two daily newspapers, morning and evening. And back when the newspaper ran in-depth stories over a week or so. All the fluff is just filler for people without cable news or internets, I think. They want to blab at the watercooler, too, although there aren’t many jobs that include watercooler time.
If you accidentally happen upon one of the neighborhood papers, like in the South Wedge, or a university news site like U of R, there are stories that could be pursued about things happening right in Rochester. For that matter, the free news stands are stacked with special-interest magazines and the City Newspaper, each of which may carry a few nuggets of information for readers.
You mention “The Wire.” I dunno if the D&C ever rivaled the newsroom in that show, but we lose the good writers, and the editors who actually want to tell a story or alert the public, and we are left with an empty shell, just like in the fictional series.
Small wonder so many people are clueless as well as not participating in community issues. It isn’t across the board, but it’s as if lots of what happens in a city our size just doesn’t merit attention.
J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford
I know there are a lot of decent Boomers out there and I’m sorry in advance to them, but this world will be a better place when their generation has passed gently into that good night.
Not to mention the aggravation of traveling somewhere else in the country, buying the local paper to try and get a different perspective on things, only to find out that their op-ed page consists mostly of syndicated garbage slingers like George Will.
Oh, and by the way, I’ve moved to a new and exciting group blog over at librarygrape.com. We’ve got an exciting team of differently-minded commentators, and there’s sure to be plenty of drama and debate. Check it out by clicking the link above.
Sigh. There certainly were plenty of folks who were slow to take down their Times-Union delivery boxes. But who needs an afternoon edition when we have cable and the internet?
I grew up in WNY and went to college in Rochester. The two newpapers/rags at the time were the Times-Union (aka Times-Onion, but not in the good way like the real Onion) and Democrat and Chronicle (aka Demagogue and Comical).
After dealing with those two useless rags for years, I heard of a new national newspaper starting up, and was outrageously hopeful that it would solve that city’s newspaper problem.
That new “national newspaper”? USA Today – another freaking Gannett rag. I gave up.
So, DougJ – you have many, many folks who feel the way you do about Rochester’s rags, and have felt that way over a number of decades. My sympathies to you.
@J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford: Seconded, though our current seniors are more of the former beatnik-types and not yet the former hippie-types. I confess I don’t understand the whole beatnik thing. Weren’t most of them right-wing? Kerouac was.
I grew up in Rochester, reading both the DC and the TU. I still remember when Grace Kelly died. It was the same day that the Prime Minister (I believe) of Lebanon was assassinated. There was one paragraph about that, and wall to wall coverage of Grace Kelly.
Doesn’t sound as if much has changed.
In the ’70s I used to deliver the Detroit News, the evening, GOP paper. Their competitor was the (morning) Free Press. Some time ago they merged, and like a neutrino meeting an antineutrino vanished in a puff of quantum debris.
It’s all about what boomers want. And it always will be until that self-absorbed cohort is mostly gone.
You are aware all porn search engines have a category called “Boomer Sex”? My favorite subcategory is Boomer Beaver. I have yet to clik on it but I am sure it either features women with overbites or The Girls from Ipana. If they had Busty Bucky Beaver it would better target my microdemographic.
But all in all you are right. The internet doesn’t have this kind of small town chain newspaper nonsense. That’s why it is winning and a winner.
Hey, secs sells.
And could you enlarge that front page a little?
Just Some Fuckhead
Thank god there are no accompanying pictures to that article.
I think the worst fail at my Gannett fishwrap is how they have completely fucked up the OP-Ed page. They routinely publish astroturf “editorials” from Rick Berman’s phony front groups in their Tennessee Voices section (which is supposed to be REAL opinions by REAL LOCALS!)
Here’s one example. I mean, you’d think they could hit the fucking Google when they get a column submitted to them. Then again, maybe they just don’t care that they are publishing paid corporate propaganda as legitimate opinion.
You Don't Say
I used to work for Gannett. I’ve worked for about six publishers in my life and Gannett was by far the worst. Ten times worse. And that’s saying a lot because publishing is as cutthroat as any other business.
@The Republic of Stupidity: I did the same thing in the same area, for both the D & C and the Times-Union. Does Bob Mathews still cover pro wrestling like it’s an actual sport?
My Gannett-owned local paper has much better over the fold local stories, thank the FSM. (It’s my employer, too) :)
With all due respect, people who are fascinated with date of birth as any kind of determinant of anything remotely relevant to assessing individual human behavior probably aren’t old enough to know any better.
Apparently, according to that Gannett piece, that’s not sex.
I, for one, am calling bullshit.
♫ Fuck Gannett forever ♫
FTFY. I don’t think there’s anything more interesting to boomers than what the boomers are doing right now.
I hope that the Boomers live forever. For once the last one dies, the world will end.
Sure, there’ll still be a lump of rock called Earth, spinning on its axis and orbiting the Sun and being inhabited by a bunch of hairless apes and stuff, but it’ll just be going through the motions. And all the music will suck.
Slightly off topic…but I found it easier to follow the Wire if I had the subtitles on. Just a thought if you watch the series on DVD again….
Jeebus! Where did all the hate for Boomers come from? If they’re the first generation (whatever that is) to be interested in themselves and talk about it, that would be news to me. Compared to the high schoolers I see every day the Boomers are practically Amish.
Gannett has been wrecking smaller market newspapers for years before moving up to mid-sized metros and doing the same. The strategy: strip resources to the bare minimum and milk the paper for obscenely high profit margins. Since Gannett tended to operate in monopoly markets, it could get away with it.
You think you’ve got it bad? My local rag is the WaPo.
What boomers want is reading about themselves, talking about themselves, or mythologizing themselves.
Or what Lev said at #8.
Well, just once.
Cmon. A 45 year old is NOT a boomer.
Where I live there is a weekly called The Forecaster (http://www.theforecaster.net/) that has several local editions for different areas, and contains actual news, including legislative debates, coverage of local events, police blotter, obits, relevant editorials, and the real local issues of the day. It’s the best news source in the state. A weekly.
@Fleem: Cmon. A 45 year old is NOT a boomer.
Indeed not. The media do seem to be especially lazy about these categorizations, probably still thinking of Gen X as twentysomething slackers.
You people pissed at boomers now better get ready for when they are all pissing in their boomer bloomers.
I can find better international and national coverage in USA Today than I can with my local paper, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch (you know, the paper that used to be owned by those Pulitzer folks). The P-D is now owned by Lee Enterprises, based out of Davenport, IA, and as a result, the paper now reads as if it were on par with the dailies in Cedar Rapids and/or Iowa City. The P-D does have good statewide coverage, though like many other aspects of STL media, they overplay their hand at scaring suburbanites regarding the dangers of the city of Saint Louis. Likewise, along with the rest of the media here, they compete amongst themselves to see just how far they can shove their noses up the collective cloaca of the Cardinals.
Even when factoring the above highlights of their coverage, the Post-Dispatch can be skimmed in its entirety in 5-10 minutes, which doesn’t justify its $1.00 newsstand price. After the Pulitzer family sold their papers to Lee, it was pretty apparent that the new ownership was hell-bent on cost-cutting and dumbing down their content. Yes, there’s lots of local coverage, but it often veers close to what the D&C is showing here. Does local effluvia make up for its barely-visible national and international coverage? I don’t think it does.
(Side note: I made a Thanksgiving trip to Omaha, and couldn’t help but notice how more substantial of a newspaper the World-Herald is. It read like the Pulitzer-era P-D, or closer to the Chicago Tribune before Sam Zell made it his party zone.)
The Christian Science Monitor was always a good paper. Of course, I think it’s online-only now. But hey, I don’t have a bird, so I don’t need to line the bird cage with a dead tree paper.
Oh hey, “readership capture” is a tag now. Huzzah!
Who reads the local paper for more than seeing which of your former high school classmates got a DUI?
@ricky: Thank you. It is also intellectually lazy.
Used to live in a Gannett town (shudder) and it drove me to subscribe to the SF Chron instead. They (Gannett) have been horrible since the dawn of time. Luckily I now live in a McClatchy town.
Also, too, on the “Car 54” reference. Ooh, ooh!
I recall when I delivered the D&C when it was a real newspaper. This was in the early 1950’s. Today I read it on-line almost every day but limit the reading to the Irish Sports Page (a/k/a the Obituaries).
Right on cue.
a 700 page essay on proper toe nail cutting technique would be more interesting that reading about boomers’ sex lives.
Yazzuh, an’ we iz layzee ‘n stoopit, tu. Oh, wait, that’s the wrong dumb-assed stereotype. This “Boomer” shit that you have so facilely pulled out of your intellectually slothful, simple-minded pimply ass is both toxic and pointless
I can just as easily maintain that in saying that you demonstrate a level of self-absorption every bit as sour and useless as that you ascribe to the so-called “Boomer” generation.
So tell me, exactly how does this type of group-bashing serve to build the type of unity that will be needed to withstand the upcoming GOP/TeaPartier putsch? I think many of us support most or all of the same goals you do. With that in mind you might want to ease off on some of this scattershot, bitter, sour-assed whining.
When the Atlanta Journal Constitution left its downtown plant for one in the (ritzy, conservative) northern suburb of Dunwoody (leaving the city with a $50 million white elephant), the smartasses at the alternative weekly decided to do a mockup of an imagined front page.
Well, that seems true of the music that gets the majority of air-play. I think there are a lot of very talented young artists and groups out there who put out good stuff, but I sure couldn’t tell you an easy way to locate them without having to spend way too much time wading through crap-ola. But I do think it’s out there if you can somehow find it.
Still, I don’t think there is any chance I’ll ever be swayed from my conviction that 1970 was the absolute peak year for superior album releases. I won’t even start to babble out all the great stuff that came out that year, but if anyone is interested you can find the release listings on Wikipedia.
@Tax Analyst: I certainly wouldn’t argue against 1970 being a fine year for album releases. I’m just making fun of the boomer stereotype – threads that mention boomers in any context have a sort of Godwin property where someone of more or less that generation argues that all non-boomer music sucks, and more broadly that somehow music “belongs” to people who listened to it when it was first released and defines generations and stuff.
It’s all pretty silly.
Oh, yeah. Back to this thread. Boy, the L.A. Times sure does super-suck now.
Why would that paper write and article on the sex life of the Port Vale FC mascot? Although he did just turn 8 which makes him a boomer in dog years, I would think this story would not have legs outside of Burslem, certainly not past Staffordshire. http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/01122010/8/photo/port-vale-mascot-boomer-dog.html shows Boomer getting down.
Wait, … shit
Oh, absolutely. You’d be amazed at how many people originally thought it was a bad idea for Apple to issue all the Beatles stuff now, saying that there wouldn’t be all that much of a market for it, since, ya’ know, everybody that might be interested would already have all their stuff (duh). I remember when my father was getting near 90 and starting to show early Alzheimer’s symptoms I was over there one Sunday evening and were watching, hmmmm, Larry King, I think, and he had Paul McCartney on it. And coming back from some of the commmercial breaks they were playing bits of McCartney’s Beatles stuff. Now my Dad had never really “gotten” the Beatles…they were almost totally outside of his frame of reference or awareness when they came out in the 60’s and they pretty much stayed there, but when they played a bit of “Yesterday” Dad clearly recognized the tune, but he had not known exactly who had done it and in fact had mostly likely first heard it done as a cover by someone else. So he goes “That was a Beatles song? I never knew that.” He had a very similar reaction when George Harrison’s “Something” was played on during a broadcast a week or so later. The songs had become “standards” to him…the songs that seem to you as though they had somehow always been around.
Yeah, and who would be interested in that Bach, Beethoven or Brahms stuff? Or Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, et al? Or that previously unreleased Mark Twain book that came out recently. The original printing to that was only 7,500 because the publisher didn’t think anybody would be interested. And to what specific generation does that fellow Billy Shakespeare belong?
Uh, hmmmnn, I think I recall almost promising not to rattle on about this type of stuff not too long ago. Well, I guess it’s just the self-absorbed, narcissistic, fuck-you-I-got-mine Boomer blood that courses through my 60-year old veins and somehow defiles, limits and ultimately deflates the life and prospects of all those unfortunate souls who entered or will enter this world in my money-grubbing materialistic wake.
Not to undercut the general outrage, but I thought it might be a useful contribution to the conversation to note that basic newspaper design places a greater weight on that second story, more so than the one at the top of the page. That’s largely because people don’t read from the top of the paper down, but up from the crease. Even so, you will often see smaller heads over lesser stories placed higher up on the page, followed by a larger deck, which is the “lead” story.
None of which is to defend any of these papers for…well, anything, really. But that’s most certainly not how the designers (or their understanding of how readers read) mean it to be read.
My friends tell me when Bob Matthews is at a local watering hole, he manages to namedrop himself to anyone in earshot. I don’t think I’ve seen pro-wrestling covered in Sports lately, but that’s because there’s nothing in that section worth reading save the weather on the back.