Saturday, August 09, 2008

Inquire No More

I've written before about the slow march toward the demise of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it looks like the paper may be picking up steam to reach its destination.

The news for the hometown paper looks dire from a financial perspective, as reported by Philly Magazine, which recently reported that the owners of the Inky had entered into a forebearance agreement with their creditors.

Now, via Phawker, I saw the latest "news" on the Inky's new policy decision to hold posting news and articles on its on-line website until its paper version is printed and delivered. As Buzzmachine notes, A stake through the heart of the has-been Inquirer:

What the hell are they thinking in Philadelphia? Inquirer ME Mike Leary just sent a memo saying they are going to hold all but breaking news for the paper and even restrict bloggers from using their blogs to work on stories in progress.

Let me make this very clear to Inquirer ownership and management:

You are killing the paper. You might as well just burn the place down. You’re setting a match to it. This is insane. Even the slowest, most curmudgeonly, most backward in your dying, suffering industry would not be this stupid anymore. They know that the internet is the present and the future and the paper is the past. Protecting the past is no strategy for the future. It is suicide. It is murder. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

And my message to staff, the few of them left:

Get the hell out now! Get away from these fools or you’ll get it on you. Let’s hold a new Norg meeting right now and organize a competitor to the ailing Inquirer. It won’t take much to kill it now. Let’s put it out of its misery.

And my question to readers:

Do you care?

Answer to last question: Yes and No.

Based upon the current paper and website -- no.

I hardly read the print version anymore (although we still get it delivered because my husband likes to read an actual newspaper). Except for one or two articles on the front page, the entire front section of the paper consists of reprints of AP, NYTimes and Washington Post articles. I can read those at the original source, so why bother reading them on a delayed basis in the paper? Even the opinion section mostly carries reprints of op ed pieces from elsewhere, along with the likes of Rick Santorum -- just the sort of outlandish conservative that a liberal town like Philly wants, so I skip over that too. The only thing worth reading is the Local section, to see what is happening in the region. Sometimes, I let the paper pile up over a few days and then just skim through to see what, if anything, is worth reading. This from a person who used to read 5 papers daily (including the Inky), from cover to cover! Overall, with cutbacks in staff and content, the old Philly paper ain't what she used to be.

Even worse, I have to say that I've pretty much given up on the website, Philly.com. It's hard to find anything resembling news between the ads and the fluff stuff. Honestly, I didn't even know that they carried breaking news -- where could they fit it amid the stupid pet tricks?

My distaste for the paper and website doesn't hold true, however, for its bloggers, such as Will Bunch and Dick Polman. I read them daily and hope that this new policy won't impact their efforts, especially that of Bunch, who often provides previews of what is percolating in the newsroom. Unfortunately, that sounds exactly what has become off limits under the new decree. I wouldn't be surprised if the edict weren't directed at him. Which also makes me wonder what he's doing on his "vacation." Hopefully, if he goes elsewhere, it won't be too far from home.

I understand the concept of the Inquirer's new policy with respect to "feature stories," but this seems to go well beyond that. As Steve Outing said, Don’t go backward, newspapers!:

OK, I understand the thinking: The print product is suffering and this is a way to give it an edge — to encourage people to think that there’s some good stuff that you’ll get first by sticking with print.

But this is an argument that has been decided (or so I thought), so it’s disheartening to see a major newspaper go backward.

See also, At the end of the war, Newspapers commit ritual suicide.

I guess this is what happens when you put a PR man in charge. For him, everything revolves around the product he is selling, so the actual journalism is merely the window-dressing for the ad content, not the other way around. But who wants to pay to read ads, other than Brian Tierney?

Too bad you can't wrap fish in a website.

1 comment:

quakerdave said...

You knew the Inky was dead as soon as they gave columns to Santorum and that bald wanker from WPHAT, Michael Howeveryouspellit.

It's a shame. Tierney's just killing it by degrees.