Monday, December 04, 2006


It took the Washington Post to tell me what was going on with my hometown newspaper, The Des Moines Register, owned by the mega 90-newspaper-chain Gannett.... "A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It's Online and Hyper-Local."

My first impulse is to cancel home delivery and just get the news online.... but then what would I read while waking-up with corn flakes and coffee?

It's not that we haven't noticed a trend.... as the weekend and hyped shopping days loom, Gannett's Register gets weightier and weightier.... with ads and ad inserts and ad slicks, and worst of all.... the side-of-the-page-long tear-off ad. I have sworn to never, ever buy anything advertised in a tear-off ad.

And, the news content has gone loco.... local. Articles on how Aunt Jane raises turnips in her window box are pushing aside "hard" news. I buy the newspaper for "hard" news which is now consigned to two-inch blurbs beneath "celebrity news" on page 2 or buried on the back pages.

When doing research on my family history and searching through newspapers from the 1800s I remember thinking how quaint the newspapers were. Filled with articles like Aunt Jane and her turnips, little national news, local gossip, and especially who died, and how they died.... the way you would tell an inquiring friend. When friends died, people cared.

Just goes to prove that everything new is really something old. The obit pages are starting to eat up the Metro news section in the increasingly thin Register news sections.... but most are dry, and must be paid for by the family.... unless the obit is just six lines thus diminishing the departed's life.... and are just another source of income for Gannett.

The new Gannett thrust is to feed the web constantly with new local "news" stories.... such as posted thus far on the Des Moines Register web site this morning:

Man says he was kidnapped while waiting for police 7:28 am
Dollar General robber passes up $1 bills 7:25 am
Warm-up beginning across Iowa 7:24 am

The "warm-up" is into the mid-30s this afternoon.... well, you can just read them for yourself if you're into jelly-soft news.

Just now, CNN announced that John Bolton has resigned, and if you don't know who John Bolton is, then you must get all of your news from a Gannett newspaper.

1 comment:

slskenyon said...

I heard about Bolton, not that I am surprised given Annan's commentary of late.

Perhaps there are too few "community" newspapers now--they are all "big city" types with very little local interest involved, and therefore, incorporate a less "personable" character.