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Get less for your $

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Newspaper readership is falling and so the publishers are hiring high priced consulting firms to find out why that’s happening.  If they really want to know, this columnist will be glad to undercut the consulting firm's winning bid and tell them the real reason and not feed them some mealy-mouth malarkey about how it isn't’t really their own fault.  If the publishers want to pay for some suits to tell them soothing lies, then they are on the right track.  If, on the other hand, they really (as in really, really) want to know why folks are saying "you're fired," then they should continue reading but, first, they should fasten their seat-belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Various newspapers helped Generalissimo Bush feed the people the propaganda that helped trick the country into a perpetual state of war and then as soon as the war started, many of the newspapers immediately began to cut their staffs to save money and increase profits.

If those same cash loving publishers lost a bunch of money in a poker game and then found out that the dealer was a well known cheat, would they go back for more the following Saturday night or is there a natural human tendency to avoid continuing a relationship with a known cheater?  If the publishers wouldn't embrace the "you'll take it and like it, see" attitude themselves, then why should their readers ignore the fact that they were cheated and deceived and keep coming back for more of the same?

First the publishers aided and abetted the President in his swindle effort and then, simultaneously,they do two short-weight cheats on their customers.  It would be bad enough if they charged more for the same product ("that's just business"), but they do a double dip slight of hand trick by simultaneously charrging more while downsizing their staff which (in effect) is guaranteed to give the audience less news for their buck  because the staff will have less people to look for and proved scoops.  The two together add up to a tricky move that would make some of tge con-men portrayved by W. C. Fields seem honest in comparison.

In the early twentieth century when newspapers were not challenged by radio or television for the available audiences and advertising dollars, and they only had each other for as competitors,a formula for success evolved that advised “give readers more for their money."  Publishers would add crossword puzzles, comics, serials, columnists, horoscopes, and even poems in the effort to out-do the competition and attract the biggest audiences (which was just what the advertisers wanted.)  As the competition grew very fierce, many newspaper resorted to sending their own foreign correspondents around the world to provide  exclusive news coverage of international events.  Some newspapers even had a separate edition printed overseas. 

In today's market that would be compared to standing on the roof and throwing fistfuls of hundred dollar bills into the wind.

Now, thanks to miserly publishers, foreign correspondents are being eliminated and it is hoped that readers won’t object to the new philosophy of:  “give the readers less for their money.”  Of course some malcontents (moi?) object, but for the most part no one bothers to send objections to the letters to the editor, editor. 

The New York Times letter to the editor policy is that they won’t print (or read?) letters to the editor that are not about a specific article which appeared in the newspaper.  Anyone who wants to complain about the smaller staffs is caught in a Catch-22 situation and (in effect) is told to "go away; don't bother me!"

Isn't "Get less for your $" a snazzy slogan for the newly downzied newspapers?

Didn't’t the tactic of not paying any attention and ignoring your critics work rather well for President George W. Bush?  Did the publishers adopt a “monkey see; monkey do” attitude and imitate the (successful) management style of the 43rd President of the United States? 

Come to think of it, isn't it true that both George W. Bush and newspapers find that living inside a "criticism proof" bubble is a very desirable life style?

Many moons ago, in the New York Times magazine section printed a story that elaborated two distinctly different business building styles.  One, was the butcher approach to cut out the fat and sell the beef at a higher price.  Then the butcher cut out the bones and sold the meat at an even higher price.  The other was the baker style.  He throws all the ingredients together and then he can sit back and watch his product grow.  As the amount of his ingredients is increased, he could grow his out-put and consequently his profits grew.  Eventually the butcher runs out of ways to cut the product and he realizes that he has (mixed metaphor alert!) painted himself into a corner.  The baker can accommodate a very large rate of expansion for his business.

Has the publisher of the New York Times read his own product?  Which part of that analogy didn't’t he understand?

So the various newspapers help a President start a war, then they give the audience less for their money, circulation falls, and then have to hire expensive market consultants to learn why that’s happening.  Gees, if any publisher reads this column right before it’s time to sign a deal with such a research firm, they can balk at the chance and then be able to give themselves a bigger Christmas bonus.  It's easy to do the math.  By giving me a modest monetary recompense (a tip as it were) to this columnist they can then giving themselves a big bonus from the money they saved themselves by not paying the marketing research firm.  (You’re welcome!)

Charles Kane (Orson Wells) put it best:  "We expect to lose a million next year, too. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million a year, we'll have to close this place in 60 years. "  Now there was a newspaper publisher who valued his audience.

Now, the disk jockey (who is a connoisseur of irony) will play "I feel pessimistic" from the 1930 movie "Good News" and we'll skedaddle.  Have a "read all about it" (if by it you mean Republican talking points) week. 

[<B>Note to Jon Stewart:  we give you permission to read this on your show</B>.]

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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)

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