It arrived this week. The current bill has been parked on my kitchen table in plain sight and every time I look at it what initially began as a simmer has developed into a boiling anger. I was on the fence about what to do, but as of today, my mind is made up. I am dropping my subscription to the Times Picayune.
Lets look at the math. The current monthly daily paper rate is $18.95. The publisher thinks they are giving its subscribers a deal by reducing the rate two whole dollars to $16.95 a month – a price for less than half of a paper subscription. I’ll give it to them that the Sunday paper does indeed cost a bit more, so I’ll pay them no more a half off rate of $9.47 a month for 3 days of newsprint. But I’d better not hold my breath, hah. Anyone can plainly see that the rate is exponentially increased for an inferior product. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind support this blatant money grab?
Now lets explore the quality. The paper has been circling the drain over the past year. Take the sports section for example – I like to relax at home with a sporting event playing in the background on TV, baseball being one of them. All this season, the major league schedule in the sports section has been hit and miss; lately all that appears in the “If you want to watch it” section is “Regional baseball coverage”. No times, no teams, nada. Other affected sections are of course the abbreviated Monday Metro section, the notable gaps in the real estate transfers, the sketchy political coverage, the printing of irrelevant national fluffy news stories that have no relevance to New Orleans, and the gradual loss over time of newsworthy substance.
What before was a central repository where one could skim the newsprint quickly for the days events – the television schedule, the clubs and restaurants, what current politician is treading the walk of shame and who should be contacted because their loved one recently died has now been completely decentralized. Citizens will be forced to get into the habit of consulting various different resources such as local television broadcasts and websites, Gambit Weekly, WWOZ, NOMENU, and the multitude of newsworthy and politically current southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi blogs such as The Lens, Slabbed, American Zombie, C.B. Forgotston, CenLamar and Uptown Messenger. Advance Publications and the Newhouse family are deluded to think that loyalty to a 3 day a week paper and a sub-standard and barely navigable website will supplant the many resources locals will have to tap into to make up for the news void the other 4 days of the week. The drawback however in tapping into multiple resources is having to sit down at a computer or thumb through a smart phone to find the current news and events, which is much more time consuming than reading newsprint. Our time is much more valuable than that, so why would we pay a hefty sum for the 3 day a week inconvenience of a mound of irrelevant content? This dearth of CURRENT information will also serve to cut us off and hasten the decline in local commerce.
The saddest thing is, with the loss of a daily paper, New Orleanians will become disconnected from the world, especially the population that aren’t wired to the internet. Maybe that is the goal – to marginalize us down here as unimportant, and unworthy of the information that makes the rest of the country tick. After the failure of the federal levee system in 2005, the seed was planted elsewhere that we don’t matter, hence the blatant disregard we’ve experienced which in this particular instance is coming from a greedy corporation that is deluded in believing they are providing us our “news” . This is atrocious – this region is one of the last bastions of a unique American culture and we will fight to the death to survive, despite all the “outsiders” such as Newhouse who dare to think we don’t matter anymore.
I appeal to everyone within earshot of this blog – we don’t need to support a piss-poor news source. We don’t need to enrich Advance Publications and the Newhouses beyond their $7.63 billion dollar worth by subscribing to a shell of the former Times Picayune. All we can hope for is the aggregate local outrage will cut Advance off at the knees rather than suffer the insult of the occasional newspaper. Hopefully another benevolent entity will step up to the plate and resume a daily publication that centralizes all of newsworthy and current events affecting New Orleans. For now, I’ll enjoy saving the annual $203.40, but believe me I’d gladly resume payment in return for a daily newspaper. We deserve much better – consider stopping the press and stop paying for this pseudo paper!