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Serious 😐 Local Newspapers

Do you subscribe to a local newspaper?

  • Yes, Print, Daily

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Yes, Print, Less than daily but more than once a week

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • Yes, Print, weekly

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes, Electronic Only

    Votes: 6 26.1%
  • No.

    Votes: 8 34.8%
  • Other (Please explain)

    Votes: 7 30.4%

  • Total voters
    23
  • Poll closed .

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,740
Points
56
Local News Papers come and go. There have been other threads (older) that have expressed questions about the long term sustainability of printed newspapers. Now there are the big ones like USA Today, New York Times, and similar national papers, but this is smaller ones like the Maple Grove Gazette or the Bark River Press. It seems that many of these smaller ones have become weekly at best, at worst, they are distant memories.

This raises interesting questions regarding municipalities and public hearing notice requirements. There is a battle brewing in North Carolina regarding this as 24 counties are looking to switch up to do online public hearing notices. Some of these counties are in rural and of course the news paper lobby is fighting back indicating that it is inequitable as not everyone has internet access.

It got me thinking and digging and I found out that the paper we use for notices has a subscription rate of about 450 homes within our Zip Code, of which less than 25% is our Town. Our website has more hits than that in a week and our Facebook page has over 2500 subscribers. I checked and none of the staff in our department or 2 other departments gets a printed newspaper.

So what about you. Do you get a printed copy of a news paper delivered to your house? Do you know of friends or family that do?
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
11,870
Points
44
Sadly, I just read it on line. As someone who did journalism and considered as as career, I am sorry it's disintegrated to this point.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
29,682
Points
73
Dead tree newspapers are, well, dead. There are a handful of anachronistic remnants out there, but journalism began to die the day social media came into vogue. More tragic than the loss of the physical newsprint itself, has been the departure of journalistic standards along with it.
 
Last edited:

jsk1983

Cyburbian
Messages
2,507
Points
25
Local News Papers come and go. There have been other threads (older) that have expressed questions about the long term sustainability of printed newspapers. Now there are the big ones like USA Today, New York Times, and similar national papers, but this is smaller ones like the Maple Grove Gazette or the Bark River Press. It seems that many of these smaller ones have become weekly at best, at worst, they are distant memories.

This raises interesting questions regarding municipalities and public hearing notice requirements. There is a battle brewing in North Carolina regarding this as 24 counties are looking to switch up to do online public hearing notices. Some of these counties are in rural and of course the news paper lobby is fighting back indicating that it is inequitable as not everyone has internet access.

It got me thinking and digging and I found out that the paper we use for notices has a subscription rate of about 450 homes within our Zip Code, of which less than 25% is our Town. Our website has more hits than that in a week and our Facebook page has over 2500 subscribers. I checked and none of the staff in our department or 2 other departments gets a printed newspaper.

So what about you. Do you get a printed copy of a news paper delivered to your house? Do you know of friends or family that do?
In wonder if some of these small local papers only manage to hold on due to revenue from legal notices which I doubt anyone reads.

My hometown of Amherst, New York/Williamsville still publishes the Bee (it dates back to 1879). It used to be a paid mail order subscription but a decade or two ago they switched to making it free and publically available at newsboxes and at stores. I try to look at it online once a week. I think half the content is high school sports.
 

WSU MUP Student

Cyburbian
Messages
11,127
Points
52
Our very local paper is only printed a couple times a week and it's still actually a pretty good paper. We subscribed when we first moved into our house in '09 but the delivery service was so bad I had to cancel our subscription and go through my bank for a chargeback. I still read their site online (and there's no paywall for anything!) and will buy a copy at the grocery store or drug store when I go. They've got really good coverage of prep sports, local school issues, and commercial and retail development.

Our office subscribes to the larger local paper that covers the entire county. It used to be a good paper and I had considered subscribing at home but then they nearly collapsed in '10 or '11 and now it's basically nothing but ads, re-printed articles from other papers, and verbatim press releases. They barely even cover prep sports. They only have one or two local writers on staff anymore so they don't even have the capacity to cover much local news in actual feature stories.

There is a company here called "Hometown News" (or something like that) that does free weekly papers in a few spots around SE Michigan and this is actually my favorite local paper. The one that gets delivered to our house covers the area of what we call "The 5-Bs" (Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms... and Franklin, MI but they're the odd one out). It's 100% advertisement supported and goes to every address in their distribution area and this is where our local communities usually put their public notices (it's also delivered through the USPS and not through a local paper delivery guy). They have good coverage of the police blotters for our area, extensively cover the prep sports for all the high schools (and give nice write-ups and interviews with student athletes around signing day), cover nearly every candidate for every local elected office when there are upcoming votes and usually have good write-ups of what happens at local council and planning commission meetings.

My parents still pay for newspaper delivery at their house and get the papers from Detroit and Port Huron, MI even though my dad constantly complains about the cost and how crappy the coverage is in them every time the topic of the newspaper comes up (he's been complaining about it for 25 years so I think he also just likes to complain about it.
 

wintergirl

Cyburbian
Messages
35
Points
2
My home town (where I grew up, but no longer live) still has an independent weekly newspaper. Its main distinguishing feature is that it prints every single letter it receives, no matter how insane or offensive the views of the writer. It regularly has 10-12 pages of letters, in small type, thousands of words each week. There are people who have spent decades of their lives having blazing tit-for-tat arguments through the pages of the newspaper. It invented the flame war.

One of their clever gambits for increasing sales is to print class photographs of every schoolchild in town at the start of each school year. No-one wants to miss out on buying the newspaper that contains a picture of their child, so they sell a copy to almost every family in the area, many of whom then continue to buy it for the local news and other content.
 

wintergirl

Cyburbian
Messages
35
Points
2
We had a local paper where I live now which thankfully went bankrupt during the Covid-19 lockdown last Spring. I say "thankfully" because the paper was, to all intents and purposes, a mouthpiece for local far-right racist and Islamophobic political figures.

It would frequently print editorials making physical threats ("I'd watch where you walk in this town at night") to named individuals with whom the publisher did not agree politically. The way it was done was quite clever - the newspaper was full of articles about schools, local planning applications, town square gossip and people bought it for the genuine local news coverage. Interspersed with this apolitical coverage were pages of right-wing rants and exhortations to vote for local far-right figures to, for instance, "prevent Sharia law being imposed on our town". It was a nasty little rag, and I'm glad it's gone.

 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
11,870
Points
44
Dead tree newspapers are, well, dead. There are a handful of anachronistic remnants out there, but 'journalism' began to die the day social media came into vogue. More tragic than the loss of the physical newsprint itself, has been the departure of journalistic standards along with it.
The days of Walter Conkrite and Dan Rather are long gone.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
29,682
Points
73
In wonder if some of these small local papers only manage to hold on due to revenue from legal notices which I doubt anyone reads.
Absolutely. It's handy sometimes to publish something in 'secret' you don't really want anyone to see in this manner. Lawyers frequently seek these publications out. Sure they published births, deaths, and maybe an odd 'article' or two ("Podunk High football team to advance to Class C semi-finals") but otherwise 75% of the content is ads for the feed store and public notices.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
14,079
Points
57
I voted other because we get it at work. Local paper published 3 times a week and as others have said, its great for local prep sports. Some editorials are an "interesting" read too. There are some where we play 'guess the writer'

We use it for running our ads for notification compliance too.
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
6,801
Points
44
I chose other. I get a weekly local paper that comes in the mail and they don't charge a subscription fee.

It's just shared content with the regional paper parent company. I put it into the recycling bin because I read the articles online the week before.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,969
Points
47
When I still lived and worked in Maryland there was great debate about what constituted "public notice" since newspaper circulation has declined so much. Last I remember it was still being talked about in the state legislature. Obviously the newspaper industry was lobbying for it to remain because legal notices are a large source of revenue.

I think what's frustrating for me is that most newspaper websites completely suck ass. You don't get nearly as many articles as appear in the print version or if you do it's not timely. My hometown newspaper used to do a really good job covering local government and education. One could actually know what's going on. That doesn't happen anymore. Small town papers hardly do any "investigating" any more.

I voted other because we get a print version at work.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
11,870
Points
44
I voted other because we get it at work. Local paper published 3 times a week and as others have said, its great for local prep sports. Some editorials are an "interesting" read too. There are some where we play 'guess the writer'

We use it for running our ads for notification compliance too.
We do as well. It's a requirement in state law.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,794
Points
46
The ex canceled our subscription before I moved out to spite me. I never felt the urge to buy a new subscription, so I read online only.

Frankly, newspapers were their own worst enemy, cutting writers and content left and right when google and facebook started competing with them. It was that unique local content that made the newspaper valuable, so cutting it removed the value and left everyone wondering why they were paying $30/month for fishwrapper.

I ran across some newspapers recently from 1999 (when our previous comp plan was approved) and the physical size of the newspaper is impressive compared to the size of current newspapers - a whole column width wider and probably 3" longer than today's version. Not only did they remove content, but they trimmed the physical size too. And this is valuable to me, why?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
19,172
Points
71
My hometown of Amherst, New York/Williamsville still publishes the Bee (it dates back to 1879). It used to be a paid mail order subscription but a decade or two ago they switched to making it free and publically available at newsboxes and at stores. I try to look at it online once a week. I think half the content is high school sports.
The best part of the Bee: the police blotter.

bee.jpg


We subscribe to the onine version of the New York Times. We don't subscribe to the local daily newspaper, though. Why? On the left: a front page from the local paper in 1997. On the right: a front page from last year.

1997.jpg
2020.jpg


Compare just the column inches. There's a friggin' gutter guard ad at the top of the 2020 front page. "Dad, I told you that's dangerous!"

The local daily has very little local or original content. When I see what it looked like 25 years ago, I want to shed a tear -- lots of advertising for local businesses, lots of local reporters and photographers, plenty of back-and-forth on its editorial pages, and local feature articles. Many of the paper's reporters went on to the New York Times, Washington Post, and other prominent publications.

Today, it's pretty much a ghost newspaper. Daily editions have half the number of pages as 25 years ago, and a lot more white space to boot. The paper has one reporter, down from a newsroom of about 30 in the 1990s. There's a lot of USA Today stock articles among its pages, along with "local" filler stories from communities about an hour away. On some days, there's no local content at all. The editorial page is gone. There's little advertising, and what's there caters largely to an elderly readership.

My source for news here is an online newspaper with enthusiastic part-time reporters, college/university newspapers, and the weekly alternative freesheet. Otherwise, the area is becoming a news desert. There's no local television stations. Commercial radio stations here are mostly programmed and staffed from out of town. An NPR station from a city about an hour away has a fair amount of news from this area, though, and a surprising amount of local sponsors.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,708
Points
46
Other: I used to have a print subscription to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Then we stopped for a while. Then I got a digital subscription. I had so much trouble logging into it (YES that IS my password, you st00pid computer!!!) I gave up and didn't renew.

I may try again. I like Bud Kennedy (one of their reporters) and I'd like to support him.
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
6,237
Points
35
We do digital. I'd prefer weekends only, but Hubby must have the sports page - he likes one of the writers. I used to work with that writer's wife, so I'm glad we help keep him employed.

Growing up I remember the big, thick Sunday paper being delivered. Color comics, the magazine insert, all the coupons - lots for a kid to look at. My parents read all sections front to back - except mom didn't read the sports section. Now mom still gets a Sunday paper, and it's nowhere near as big as it used to be.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
19,172
Points
71
Otter pop, a former cyburb, started out in journalism before going into planning.
Another planner I worked with a long time ago worked in journalism. He was responsible for writing the unified development code for the county, and for its time it was one of the clearest, most concise codes I've read.

I was the editor for my high school newspaper, if that means anything.

In other news (heh), I have a subscription to newspapers.com. In the 1920s, my little hometown had SEVEN daily newspapers.
  • Buffalo Evening News (the survivor -- historically moderate Republican, today more centrist/center-left leaning)
  • Buffalo Courier (Democratic/labor leaning; merged into the Courier-Express in the late 1920s, closed in 1982.)
  • Buffalo Express (Republican leaning, merged into the Courier-Express in the late 1920s)
  • Buffalo Times (Democratic, the sensationalist "people's newspaper"; closed in the 1930s.)
  • Buffalo Enquirer (another sensationalist paper, merged into the Courier-Express)
  • Buffalo Commercial (eccentric/cranky owner, pro-business leaning; closed later in the 1920s)
  • Polish Everybody's Daily (started publishing some English language content in its last years, closed in 1957)

Dziennik Dla Wszystkich.jpg


Up until recently, there was a daily newspaper in one of the inner ring suburbs (Tonawanda News). There's still two suburban dailies; the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union-Sun Journal.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,969
Points
47
OT but related: I absolutely can't stand when planners are poor writers. I mean it seriously drives me crazy. So I'm not surprised Dan was a newspaper editor because I've seen some of the examples he's shared of his writing. If you can't write, you can't work for me. I've put many, many resumes and cover letters in the discard pile due to misspellings, poor grammar and just plain unintelligible writing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not without a heart and unless it's something that is so glaringly obvious it can't be forgiven I certainly realize everyone can make a mistake. You can however figure out pretty quickly who is capable of writing in a manner that is acceptable.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,145
Points
55
When I still lived and worked in Maryland there was great debate about what constituted "public notice" since newspaper circulation has declined so much. Last I remember it was still being talked about in the state legislature. Obviously the newspaper industry was lobbying for it to remain because legal notices are a large source of revenue.

I think what's frustrating for me is that most newspaper websites completely suck ass. You don't get nearly as many articles as appear in the print version or if you do it's not timely. My hometown newspaper used to do a really good job covering local government and education. One could actually know what's going on. That doesn't happen anymore. Small town papers hardly do any "investigating" any more.

I voted other because we get a print version at work.

yes! I just signed off on legal ad bills that were 800 bucks each, and the zoning changes with a little map were $1400 - the ad space was very small too! it's ridiculous because no one reads them but the newspapers lobby the state every time someone tries to get rid of the posting requirement in state statute.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
11,870
Points
44
For me, I was a matter of shifting writing styles. Government, business writing is different that journalism and creative writing. While some the basic skills are the same, it takes some mental shifting to go between the styles. Debate and speech team influenced my professional writing more than anything.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,145
Points
55
I find my Public Information Officer training was helpful in upping my game of staff reports and research documents. Getting the basics out first in opening paragraphs, quickly getting to what is this and why is it important has been super helpful.

I only had one boss that hated my writing - and it became a self fulfilling prophesy because I felt so hopeless at the time. I don't have those issues anymore, gratefully.
 

WSU MUP Student

Cyburbian
Messages
11,127
Points
52
I find my Public Information Officer training was helpful in upping my game of staff reports and research documents. Getting the basics out first in opening paragraphs, quickly getting to what is this and why is it important has been super helpful.

Our Economic Development & Community Affairs department (which includes planning, business development, workforce development, etc.) includes a marketing department and the marketing staff has a few former newspaper and PR people and works very closely with our planning staff and our business/workforce development staff to put together marketing materials and other reports and writes up press releases for our Executive Office and I'm often called upon to chime in and proofread and materials, especially when it comes to verifying numbers and fact checking.

There seems to be a huge disparity in how well some people can write, especially when it comes to writing for a government audience. I like to think that I'm a pretty good writer at the office and I credit having to write daily SITREPS in the Marine Corps when I worked in a G-3 ops office where it was basically beaten into us that they want just the facts and leave all the subjective BS aside. When I have to write up longer reports these days my style basically boils down to:
  1. Tell you what I'm going to tell you and why it's important
  2. Tell you that stuff
  3. (If I have the space) Remind you what I told you

I may get wordy here on Cyburbia but that's just because I don't have an outlet for all that word overflow at work! :ha:
 

wintergirl

Cyburbian
Messages
35
Points
2
We do still have a very good regional (not local) newspaper which I buy from time-to-time if I see it in the shops and if the headline catches my eye. The Yorkshire Post covers a huge area (about four million people) but unlike a lot of smaller local papers, it's pretty much entirely original content rather than syndicated wire crap and some of the photography is brilliant.

They still run opinion pages, a business supplement, and lots of useful planning related stories! The size of the paper (Yorkshire has around the same population as Scotland, which has three national newspapers) makes it viable. I think anything smaller is too small in today's market.

EvbQpWcXEAgNe1P
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,145
Points
55
I have a digital subscription to the daily newspaper for my small city I work in (30k +/-) and for the weekly for the small town I live in (winter pop 5k) - they both do a decent job in covering what's going on at the local level - the small town used to be a 2 paper town which is red flag for crazy town in a town that small

There are so many ways to finding out what's happening on a national or global level, some good, some not so - ownership of those newspapers dictates what gets covered

what I like about locals is the ownership often is still local or at most statewide/regional so the dictation is a little more real

and the digital subscriptions get the craziest comments
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,969
Points
47
This isn't really relevant to anything we're talking about (so what else is new?) but it is a newspaper story. Until 2007 my hometown, which is just now about 40,000 people, had both a morning and evening paper published every day except for one on Sundays. That's kind of crazy now that I think about it.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,145
Points
55
This isn't really relevant to anything we're talking about (so what else is new?) but it is a newspaper story. Until 2007 my hometown, which is just now about 40,000 people, had both a morning and evening paper published every day except for one on Sundays. That's kind of crazy now that I think about it.

Yes, Syracuse had that too and people had their specific preferences - but that's been gone for a long time I think
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
19,172
Points
71
yes! I just signed off on legal ad bills that were 800 bucks each, and the zoning changes with a little map were $1400 - the ad space was very small too! it's ridiculous because no one reads them but the newspapers lobby the state every time someone tries to get rid of the posting requirement in state statute.
I was thinking about that a few days ago. A lot more residents here read the alternative weekly than the daily "ghost newspaper". However, we publish legal notices in the daily, because it's still the newspaper of record.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,790
Points
45
This isn't really relevant to anything we're talking about (so what else is new?) but it is a newspaper story. Until 2007 my hometown, which is just now about 40,000 people, had both a morning and evening paper published every day except for one on Sundays. That's kind of crazy now that I think about it.
The Atlanta Journal (afternoon) and the Constitution (mornings) merged newsrooms in 1982, and basically published two daily editions with almost similar content until they completely merged and dropped the afternoon edition in 2001. The Constitution's editorial board won the internal war, unfortunately.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,586
Points
28
While I used to be an in-hand subscriber to the paper version, I now get all my news from my phone or computer. I rarely watch the nightly news for the same reason. I have it all in my hands. Times change.
 

Hawkeye66

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
25
I get the Cedar Rapids Gazette. They have a great e-reader so when you read it, it is basically the paper. I love it on the weekends especially.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
844
Points
33
We have a free weekly that goes to every address in the municipality, and that's where we advertise. I get a similar free weekly to my home address.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,600
Points
44
I have a digital subscription to the NY Times (localish to me) and the Washington Post. I refuse to pay for the Star Ledger and Asbury Park Press but I will often pick up a Sunday paper for one or the other.
 
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