I was watching Denis Leary on David Letterman the other night. No, I don't stay up that late - it was Tivo'd. I love Denis Leary and my Tivo is set up to tape any show that has him in it - so I end up with crap like Operation Dumbo Drop, but its okay, because I also get some great stuff too!
Anyway - Dave was telling Denis what great shape he was in and asked how he did it. Denis said he plays hockey. He said he used to run, but when he runs, he stews and that isn't good for anyone.
I was running early Sunday morning and realized that I, too, stew when I run. I was getting all worked up over the newspaper again. A general theme - its a huge part of my life, so it only makes sense that I would think about it when I run. As I've said before, that's when I do my best thinking.
Last week, there was a story on the front page of The Oregonian's 'How we Live' secton titled: "The Frill is Gone". It had a list on the left that said "Out with the Old", the list on the right said "In with the New". The "Out with the Old" list was a who's who of Oregonian Advertisers. The "In with the New" was non-local businesses or free services. This was not a hard-hitting news item, it was a human interest type story. I suppose the purpose of it was to respond to the tough economic conditions our readers are facing. Which I understand...but why in the world would we name our biggest advertisers in the "out with the old".
If this feature had run in any other publication - they would have listed newspapers in "out with the old" and getting your news online for free in the "in with the new". We'd be all up in arms about that.
The more I think about this, the madder I get. A few weeks ago, I posted two times about things going on at The Oregonian. Those posts were picked up by other bloggers in other cities and my blog got a lot of hits. My opinions were picked apart and commented on by many other people. That scared me a bit, because I want to keep my job. So I was going to keep my opinions about the paper to myself. Then this happened and I went for a run....the stewing began and now there is no stopping it.
For the life of me, I will never understand why the newspaper industry is so hell bent on putting themselves out of business. I am not suggesting that we don't cover stories or keep facts hidden about something or someone because they are an advertiser. If there is a story that needs to be told, we should tell it - no matter who it is about.
As a local paper, isn't it our responsiblity to support our community? Isn't it our responsiblity to tell our community's story? Even to drive business into our community? I think it is.
Now, I am bit of a fanatic about things. Our business is an advertiser in both local papers and I can say this for sure...if our business was listed in a story like this as one of the "out with the old"s...I wouldn't give another penny to that paper. EVER. My hope is that none of the decision makers at the advertisers who were named are like me. Because really....can we afford to lose more advertisers? I think not.
Stephen Colbert has been talking a lot about newspapers lately and the other night he said this: "When newspapers die, where will I read the obituary". Good question Stephen. Very good question.