newspaper 101...

It was after 6PM last night when the phone rand and this delightful, yet totally unprepared 21 year old man from our former newspaper called. He wanted to know why we canceled our subscription. We will never know how he wishes than he dialed a wrong number. Never.

We went on to have a 20 minute conversation about our local newspaper. I got to do my newspaper routine and he was left stunned. I even entered the arena of his job security.

If you are the Editor, what are you going to do to make sure you have a job in 20years? Do you really think trying to get people to buy the newspaper because of the coupons can be seen as anything more than a defensive posture?

The poor guy. We talked about value. The only place he tried to defend was in the area of Investigative Reporting. Again, I apologize.

Since yesterday, I already know that the Boise Police officer who retired 5 days ago and has been arrested and charged with child molestation with 5 children, ages 1- 21 months (sorry about the detail, it was pertinent to his question) and that as of this afternoon, 13 more people have come forward. What more could the newspaper add.

This isn't brain surgery but I did point out that his paper has decided it is better to be defensive than pro-active. If I have a product that by my own definition is aimed at people 60-80 years old and not to be crass, but you are losing your consumer on a daily basis, isn't it time to make some drastic changes. I told him the That Powers That Be need to get 5 people like me but not me, to sit in a room and get honest. Honest enough that allowing the loud voices to fly would be encouraged. Even their on-line paper is unattractive and impossible to navigate through.Who would continue to buy this product, I asked him. Do you really think you will have a job here in 5 years? 10 years? By this time, the poor guy, I am sure, is wishing for the wrong number thing. Maybe I should go to college, he said out loud, at one point. What have I done now?

He was a nice man and I hope whatever career he chooses next, will have a longer shelf life. At least a field that will be around for most of his working career. Should one desert a sinking ship? A ship that has charted its own course and decided that hitting the iceberg is the best plan? Go ahead if you want to but I think it is time to get Real...