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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 27, 2007 8:01 AM. The previous post in this blog was How was your Hood to Coast?. The next post in this blog is Want impeachment? Tell Earl the Pearl yourself. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

"Us, too!"

We killed our paid subscription to The Oregonian a while back. Nowadays everything we've ever wanted out of the paper we can get for free on line, and without the recycling duty. It's not quite as convenient as the dead-tree version, but it doesn't take long to get through the editorial content of the O. That's money well saved.

To our surprise, however, the cancellation of our paper didn't stop the delivery on our front porch, yesterday mid-afternoon, of this item:

It's the latest edition of what used to be called Ultimate and now is Ultimate Northwest -- a slick, glossy mag produced by the O. We blogged about this publication almost exactly a year ago, shortly after the first issue came tucked in our Sunday paper -- back in the days when we were paying for that pile of pulp. It was weak then, and it's weak now. Journalism lite, laid out amidst the color advertisements in such a way that it's not possible to see where the ads end and the editorial content begins. Even if I open my codgerly mind as far as it will go, it's still truly painful to flip through it. Somebody named Jamie Francis has some nice photos in there, but the whole look and feel of the thing had me in such a hurry to put it down that I didn't get to appreciate them fully.

This product sure looks to us like a reaction by the waning O empire to Portland Monthly (which is also not my cup of tea). It doesn't take much imagination to put yourself in the conference room at the O the day the idea was first bounced around. "Hey, somebody else is making a living selling ads for the city's shallowest businesses and getting them in front of customers. How come we aren't getting those ads? We've got to get in on that." I don't think they could ever reasonably expect to make this venture even come close to breaking even, but I suspect they wouldn't mind cutting into the competition's revenue stream.

This is not the first time our prize-winning daily has made this kind of derivative move. First there was A&E -- a ripoff of the back half of Willamette Week. Then came InPortland -- funny thing, right after the Portland Tribune took hold. Now this.

All the way down to the circulation plan. Ultimate has a $4.99 cover price on it, but that's as fake as the budget for the eastside streetcar. They're literally throwing this baby up on people's porches on Sunday afternoons, people. Much the same way that Portland Monthly is apparently mailed for free to every doctor and lawyer in town -- perfect for the waiting room.

Once upon a time, a quick and dirty rule was that the price readers paid for their copies of a publication covered the expenses of the editorial department, and advertising income covered everything else. In the new math, it looks like advertising has to carry the whole enterprise, because any customer who pays retail for one of these mags is a fool. (But exactly the kind of fool that the advertisers want, of course -- "Luxury in the Pearl (Ignore That Falling Wall).")

Memo to the O, and indeed to the entire Newhouse newspaper chain: If you want to survive over the long haul, you are going to have to come up with a fresh product sometime soon. And this most decidedly is not it.

Comments (16)

Newhouse is a convienent target, but not the Oregonian's, in house, deep rooted problem that's causing them to lose the respect of their long time readers.

I didn't get a copy of this thing, Jack. Could you just TELL me why men crave expensive timepieces?

That is...if you have time.

Thanks

You don't live in a cool enough neighborhood, man.

They crave them so they can see how late the streetcar is running.

Just remember if you want to read real news; especially business and financial news - you can get an annual subscription to both the print and online versions of the Wall Street Journal for $99.00 per year. (That's less than what the BOREGONIAN will charge you for their cage liner!)

I kind of like the Oregonian. It makes the San Diego Union Tribune look like a cross between Le Monde and the New York Times. For a small town paper it’s very readable.

If you have another $99 to blow, may I recommend the Financial Times. It’s more pro pure capitalism than the WSJ and the weekend edition has a sense of humor. As an unreformed lefty it annoys me all the time (which I enjoy) but, to quote the great Noam Chomsky, “it’s the only paper that tells the truth.”

When the O shut down Oregon magazine years ago they pretty much gutted their book reviews (this was back in the Paul Pintarich era). I started up a little tabloid-sized review with color covers, some nice artwork, and longer review that lasted -- regrettably -- only a couple of years, but I was told by a couple of people on the inside that is shamed the Oregonian into reviving their review section.

All they ever do is react. It's why they're dying.

I'm wondering if I could get a few Hints from Heloise? Is that column still around? doubt it.

Anyway, I signed up for the Oregonian a couple of weeks ago during a promotion at Fred Meyer, primarily because they gave me a Fred Meyer gift card worth more than the cost of a month's subscription. I have to admit I prefer reading my sports scores and comics and the occasional Garrison Keillor on my front porch on a sunny day, rather than hunched over my computer.

So my queston is: what do you do with the plastic bags the papers come in? Can they be recycled. They really don't work at all as bags for produce or other food, except celery.

And why do they need to put plastic bags on the papers in the middle of summer anyway? When I was an Oregonian paper boy, we learned how to fold a newspaper so that it would stay together even after a 60-foot toss from street to front porch on a moving bike. Didn't need no stinkin' plastic bag. Didn't even need a rubber band.

on my front porch on a sunny day

That's why we keep our print subscription to The New York Times.

The sad fact is the NY Times has a far better web site than the Oregonian, so I read it on-line. Or in one of Portland's many fine independent coffee houses.

...what do you do with the plastic bags the papers come in?

If you owned a dog, you wouldn't have to ask this question.

Or a cat.

So I'm doing the right thing, then. Of course I have a fenced back yard, so I often let the dog poop go for a few days before scooping it all up. I guess I could donate the leftover bags to dog owners who don't take the newspaper.

What's depressing is knowing the workers at The O who see that their ship is sinking, deny it to themselves, and do nothing. Sitting in deck chairs on the Titanic, too frozen in fear to move about in rearranging.

What they could do is work stoppage, strike, organize themselves and unite, and take over and run the place. Mygawd how the deadmoney advertisers would expire, and the livingmoney advertisers would throng.

Somewhere in media maven land, scroll down, there is this:

MAINSTREAMERS GO ONLINE

Star Tribune veteran writer goes online with www.ericblackink.com
After 30 years in print journalism,the excellent Eric Black enters the ‘new media’

MINNEAPOLIS (08/29/2007)—After 30 years with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, award winning journalist Eric Black today officially launched www.ericblackink.com, a daily “guided tour of facts and arguments on topics that one humble ink-stained wretch deems important, interesting or both.”

Black is among the journalists who voluntarily accepted a buyout from the Star Tribune in June, as the paper downsized its newsroom in the face of dropping circulation numbers and advertising dollars.

“I left the Strib with gratitude for all the great experiences and relationships I had there, but the future is online.” Black said. “I had come to feel constrained by the norms of traditional journalism. ... "

Here is a suggestion to save the big "O", try reporting the news, as opposed to what the jailblazzers are up to. Oh yeah, and the ME TOO syndrome, which is, what ever happens any where in the world, the next day headlines are "COULD IT HAPPEN HERE" stop already, just the news please.


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