Monday, July 22, 2019

Optimism …

Inquirer Management Fears Philly Could Have No Daily Paper in 5 Years. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)
Their digital sight is awful. Quite often, if one tries to find an article that is in the print version, one cannot. So they could start by looking at the digital sites of British newspapers. These, not surprisingly, mirror the print versions of same.
The print version of The Inquirer would do much better, I suspect, if it had a serious book section. I say this, not because I used to edit The Inquirer’s book section when it still had one, but because the paper’s competitor on Sunday, the New York Times, still has a book review section. True, it is a shadow of its former self. (I have nothing against the NYT’s book section. I wrote for it once. Those were very nice checks.) The Inquirer could easily put out a book section fully competitive with the NYT’s. I suspect that readers would soon prefer paying less for The Inquirer’s than more for the NYT’s. (Of course, that would mean they were really putting out a good section — which would not be hard, though I'm not sure this sorry crew could pull it off.)
Of course, the problem is much deeper than that. The quotes from management in this article make plain that the one thing these people don’t know how to manage is a newspaper. Why the hell is Brian Tierney still involved with this operation? He’s the one who brought them to their current low estate. 
The paper has no drama critic, no book critic, no book editor. Any wonder no one takes it seriously anymore. The managers should get out more and talk to people. I don’t think they would like what they’d hear, but they’d learn something.
I give them two to three years.


  1. I've probably left a variant of this comment before, but I find it amusing that newspapers can remove the offerings that cater to people who read and then wonder why they don't attract readers.

    In response to your post, I went and poked around the Inquirer's website. It's faster and less clunky than it used to be. But the editorials and columns are pretty predictable in their tone and approach, and the reorganization of the newsroom into beats like "urbanism and built environment" and "fairness" feel a little too cute, like there's a weird balancing act going on. I like that they aspire to breadth of coverage, but is their paper a place for down-the-middle journalists, or for social crusaders? They should pick one or the other and commit. Their lip service to being all things to all people feels half-hearted, like it's a cultural legacy at the paper rather than who they genuinely are now.

    I also find it telling that the "faith" reporter explains that she covers "faith and spirituality." Why can't she bring herself to use or at least include the word "religion"?

    Also, does any newspaper need three paid reporters to cover the local baseball team, and three others to cover the football team? Is there data to show that sports coverage still drives sales, subscriptions, and website hits, or is the size of corporate sports coverage—four columnists and nine reporters—a legacy of management's biases? By contrast, they have only two reporters doing high school sports, which is coverage that's potentially more valuable because parents have fewer places to read and enjoy it.

    Also, the entertainment section features an article about a recent Rolling Stones concert. Why? What's left to say about them? Meanwhile, why is an entertainment columnist writing about a minor James Bond movie controversy that was hashed out and done on Twitter days before the column went live?

    I don't mean to sound like some know-it-all scold. The truth is, I don't know how to save a flailing newspaper, but I am an avid reader and a former daily consumer of newspapers, and what I see on the Inquirer website is a newspaper that isn't organized or overseen in a way that attracted readers in the current times, even if many of the reporters are obviously doing good and difficult work.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    I think what you say is spot on, though the website still seems klutzy to me. The other day there was a story in the paper about an elephant who had appeared in a parade for many years, but won't anymore because animal rights people complained. I have been unable to find it online. This is very common. It's as if the online people never look a the news budget.

  3. Success. I just found it!