Monday, November 30, 2009


The bill for The News Leader has been sitting on my desk for a couple weeks - $133.69 for the annual subscription. My caller ID says they called on Black Friday. They'll probably call back today... and tomorrow... and later in the week. My conundrum - subscribe or not?
Today's paper is two thin sections, a total of 14 pages. Some days are a little bigger but not much meatier. About half of those pages are "news" or sports without ads. I say "news" because I don't consider things like road reports, restaurant inspections, TV listings, and horoscopes as news. Most days I spend 10 minutes or less with the paper.
Lots of pictures... is the one of the hunter on A3 recycled from a day or so ago? And the pictures, though colorful, are often huge and take up half or more of the page. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, but in the case of The News Leader I get the feeling giant pictures are used because the paper doesn't have enough words to print.
With the immediacy of TV and the internet, why do we need about a third of a page devoted to the weather forecast? By the time I get the paper, that section is out of date!
And then there are the ads... and lots of them. Taking up more space than text on some pages. Some days, there are ads on the font page. There are the sad foreclosures. Then there is the daily pumpkin or other three column x 5 inch ad by Francis Chester. He must have a sustaining membership. Doesn't he realize that sometimes less is more?
But, there are all the reasons for keeping the subscription... firing up the wood stove, cleaning windows, wrapping fragile gifts, and the valuable coupons. I think I saved $2 at the grocery store last week.... ah the math, $2 x 52 = $104. Almost pays for the subscription... that is if I remember to clip/use 'em!
But, there are so many other things to do with $133.69. A donation to The News Leader/Salvation Army's Neediest Families program, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and the Augusta Regional Free Clinic will give much more satisfaction than 10 minutes a day kicking myself in the butt for spending so much on a subscription that delivers so little.
Conundrum solved.


Progressive said...

Damn if I don't agree with you. I read 4 papers generally a day, and the Leader and News Virginian are making it more questionable as to why I'm spending my money on them.

Gill Robb said...

The coupons are useful, but even a lousy example of the dead tree media, such as those guys, still serve as part of the glue that helps hold communities together.

Rather than snicker as newspapers die a slow death, citizens who are tech savvy could create related links and work out content sharing contracts with traditional media, so that the useful information is pushed out to all forms of non-traditional media.

Anonymous said...

That paper has been in a downturn since that blowhard dennis neal got in a pissing contest with local bloggers