Why we don’t read your paper

Tim Ball, in a post titled “Newspapers and why nobody reads them” writes:

“The problem for newspapers isn’t that I’m getting this information from another source. It’s that I don’t want it at all, and the local-local focus of metro newspapers in the last several years has made them not just less valuable to me, but increasingly annoying to me. I want to be able to pick up the local paper in a large city, toss out the Local section and get all that I need from the other sections.”

Go read the whole thing.

I’m a bit of an evangelist for local news, so I don’t agree with everything Tim says, but I’m definitely part of the market in question here.  And, living in a new town, I definitely couldn’t care less about what the city council or school board have to say.

Back in Santa Cruz, the circulation area was smaller compared to Rochester, even if the town was much bigger than the suburb we live in now, so the chances the local paper had of hitting a topic I was interested in were much better.

And more than that, because I could certainly read the (hyper)local paper here, the local politics, development issues, and crime stories always hit (literally) closer to home, and drew me in, even if it was just to criticize the paper’s coverage of a given issue.  (Yes, I ended up working there for a year, too.)

For more pontificating about local news, check out last weekend’s Carnival of Journalism, which I sat out with a hyperlocal sinus infection.

4 Replies to “Why we don’t read your paper”

  1. I don’t see how making a large metro paper accessible to a general audience would make it better. We just need better local news.

    Local news shouldn’t just cover local happenings, it needs to strive for why its important to my daily life and/or how it will affect me.

    We “need” a reason to need that local content.

  2. I don’t disagree with Tim that the local section usually isn’t interesting. But his lionizing of the NY Times as what he wants doesn’t make any kind of economic or strategic sense for local newspapers.

    He’s right. NY Times rocks. It and other national papers rock so much that they make local papers take on those issues pretty freaking redundant.

    The only commodity that local newspapers have that national papers don’t is local news.

    Sure it needs to be better. And maybe changing the approach on the way it’s presented/written would help. But to say people in that age group (of which I am a member) don’t care about local news at all really isn’t true. Check out the unofficial news sources on the web. Tons of late 20s early 30s people are talking on the web about lots and lots of local news items.

    There’s interest, we’re just not capturing it.

  3. Ten years ago when my children and I moved into our home half of our neighbors subscribed to the Los Angeles Times, today there are two of us receiving the newspaper on a daily basis. Without probing why so many of my neighbors have cancelled their subscriptions, they voluntarily divulge the many reasons they have deserted the newspaper I have been employed by for thirty-six years.

    I suppose they feel I actually have a say in the slant the newspaper has taken under control of the Tribune Company, and now Sam Zell, as an employee?

    What bothers me the most are my own children, they range in age from sixteen to twenty-seven, and have grew up with newspapers always at hand. Yet, they seldom open up the newspaper, unless they want to see a movie or check when a favorite musical group might be playing in town.

    With traffic conditions horrendous, many of my neighbors and myself begin our commute to Los Angeles at 4:30 am, but our newspapers are delivered after the majority of us have left our homes.

    I for one would enjoy having an afternoon edition of a newspaper delivered.

  4. Enjoying the blog Ryan – quick point (which could apply to quite a bit of the media blogosphere).

    “I definitely couldn’t care less about what the city council or school board have to say.”

    Sorry to have gone quote-picking, but quite a few bloggers can come accross very flippant about the choices newsrooms make. Remember families/OAPs/local govt workers make up the readership of many local papers. They cater for them more often than twitter-holics!

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