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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 11, 2012 5:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was One more municipal meltdown. The next post in this blog is Riding shotgun with Stenchy. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's gonna be just like old times

We opened the envelope left by the mailman, and along with the odor of desperation, out came this:

Free home delivery to keep circulation up? It's like they're meeting the old Portland Tribune on the way back down.

Comments (21)

This program has been in place for a number of years, Jack. It's rotated around the market and, apparently, just now making its way to you. Most all larger papers do this and have since before the bottom fell out of this business. The deliveries are classified differently from deliveries actual individual order and pay for. True, it's a cheap way to pump up the numbers, but it's not an "on the way back down" phenomenon. If anything - considering The O still has to pay to print and deliver these papers - it's a sign of some financial health. No, I don't work at The O. But I used to.

We all have our list of bizarre experiences in life, and one of the mine was being a newspaper columnist in the first days of the Tribune. I'd go outside and there'd be a newspaper with my column in it outside my door and everyone's door down the street as far as the eye could see. That was weird.
I'd walk down the street on my way to the store, and my neighbors would yell out comments about what I had written. One time this truck pulled over near where I lived, and the driver hopped out. I thought, "Here we go." He just wanted to say he read the column.
Of course, the paper would look great at first, but there were usually a couple that didn't get picked up. Maybe the house was empty.
The thrill of knowing your work was distributed so widely sort of diminished when you saw a paper sitting in a mud puddle for a few days.
I thought the door-to-door free delivery was overkill.

"One of the mine"? I'm starting to see why the Trib let me go.

Ahh, the coffee's brewing upstairs. I'll get this turned around yet.

Likewise, the failed redesign of their Oregon Live website was likely just another attempt to steer us away from our computers and back to hard copy.

Sorry O, but I just can't grow to like the new web format. I say it here because I know you are more likely to be able to find it here.

Always liked The Oregon Journal. it wasn't as stuffy as the morning paper. Wish they hadn't given up on it.

At least you have something now to wrap your food waste in so that it doesn't stick to the green bin.

The only thing I'll add is that I've related before how the Dallas Morning News does this, too. You can always spot the empty houses in the neighborhood based on the extensive pile of free papers dumped out front. The song and dance necessary to opt out of those free copies is impressive, too, because Morning News management assumes that the threat of missing out on "valuable coupons," the same valuable coupons that the paper mails to me every day and end up in the recycling, is enough to keep customers.

Make sure you write down the end date of this free promotion on your calendar, because they aren't going to call up to ask if you want to extend or cancel your subscription. In 13 1/2 weeks, you'll be getting a full-price bill.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention that opting out just gives the paper more information with which to nag you about subscribing. About two months ago, I opted out of the "free" DMN Briefing, a freebie that was dumped in my front yard unbidden and unannounced for a week. (This being Texas, most people don't have reason to step out into their front yards except to mow and clean up trash blown off the street, and if you don't get a paper, it's hard to get into the habit of checking each day to see what junk shows up from the Morning News.) When asked why I didn't want it, my response was "I get enough unwanted garbage dumped on my front lawn as it is." Well, now it's three and four calls per week asking if I'm ready to subscribe to the paid version. Even better, they're apparently outsourcing their cold callers, because the Caller ID only shows "Free Press".

Now, I will say that the outsourced cold callers are better than the ones the Morning News used to have in house, because the outsourced callers have their own canned speech. I'm no longer asked, as soon as I pick up, "May I please speak to the man of the house?" I used to answer "Hang on a second, and let me get her," and then hang up.

Seeing that the Portland Timbers are such a featured advertiser, answers some questions I had after the Seattle Sounders match when the Oregonian proudly trumpeted, "Timbers-Sounders game draws third-highest MLS television audience."

I thought, "My that sounds good. How encouraging for MLS." Then you delve into it and the 2 higher rated games were in 1996, and 1998. That's a long time ago.

Then you notice the drop-off from the Italy/England match that preceded it and bumped it to another ESPN channel for a while: 2.68 million viewers down to 880,000. Admittedly, that match went to penalty kicks and was a snoozefest, wearing out a potential soccer audience, but still, trying to get a positive headline out of these numbers took real work.

To put it in context, Bristol Palin's new reality show, "Life is a Tripp" drew over 700,000 viewers and was immediately bumped to a different time slot and threatened with cancellation.

Oh well. It's not new, but seeing the Timbers name so prominently displayed here makes me understand the coverage a little more.

I'm waiting for a positive Oregonian story about John Spencer: "Timbers Help Local Economy with New Job Opening."

We got one of those letters last winter, received about 4-5 free papers delivered, and then...nothing more!

Maybe they made a mistake in offering it in the first place or maybe the driver just cut the freebies off of their route - but that was a very short 6-weeks!

Ah, great, another inconvenience brought to you by the Daily O and a big list of sponsors. So let me get this straight: you get a free subscription that you have to opt out of and every would-be thief knows when you're on vacation when the papers stack up in your driveway. I can't imagine the problems this will create.

Over here in the outer west side residential area, I received that offer last spring ( Spring, 2011) and had a devil of a time getting them to NOT deliver it. Similar issues with getting the Boregonian and their local distributor to stop littering my front lawn with their Tuesday freebie grocery ads thing this spring (Spring 2012).

Its amazing the mentality of the folks the Oregonian circulation department who can't get their heads around the idea that there are folks out here who really don't want to picking up the litter they dump.

Is that a racist caricature of a Native-American on their letterhead?

Jack's post yesterday about the first picture on the Internet a mere 20 years ago, shows how the pace of change has accelerated. Who knows how it's going to shake out. Maybe network TV, and the big cable companies are the next entities to sweat as newspapers reinvent themselves and head for the computers even more.

Steve Jobs' last big idea - computers as the new TV set - is nearly here. Sure, they'll cost a few grand when they hit the market next year (reportedly) but imagine if you can choose your channels, or shows, one by one? Instead of being force-fed a bunch of stuff you never watch from a cable company with no competition? You could tell Comcast to stick the cable bill and watch your computer screen instead.

In that landscape, perhaps some of the bucks you spend to not watch the Home Shopping Network, will go to the former print newspapers and they'll be right back in the game.

TV is being eroded already. I'm sure you've had that experience where you want to read a story, based on the headline, but when you go to the site it's just a video version with no print. With that erosion comes a change in the whole way media works.

The great rip-off now are the cable companies. Do you realize if you want to talk to a person at Comcast to pay your bill, it's now an extra fee? Enjoy the monopoly, because Steve Jobs is about to shake up your world from beyond the grave.

And somewhere in there I hope the newspaper business returns and thrives in a better form. These news people deserve to get paid.

We got one of those letters a few weeks back and our "subscription" never started!

I've had the same experience as Craig, I got the letter, but never the paper... (Which is just as well, I would just dump it in the recycle bin.)

They have been delivering to me in Beaumont for three weeks and I did not receive a letter. I must have received Craig's subscription.

Gibby, I'm with you on the new format. The large font doesn't bother me as much as having to continually click "Load More" to see more reports. Plus, after reading a story on any page after page one and you want to return to where you left off in the line-up, you get returned to page one again! Even if you're on page five, you then have to go through all those "Load More" clicks to get back to where you were. Why haven't they fixed that? Seems like lousy programming to me. Very annoying.

Unfortunately it always went mostly unread and straight into the recycle bin. Lack of time and so many other sources that cancelling was not hard. Fun that I have not had the incessant phone calls to come back like I have before. They must have let go the staff that worked the circulation department.


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Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
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William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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