Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Toilet Time - What Now?

Are we seriously expected to lug our laptops into the bathroom when we want to read our The Detroit Free Press or The Detroit News? It is entirely possible that I am already doing that (I'll never tell), but I could see this being viewed as unsanitary by at least 30% of the Michigan population. Plus, it can be an awful lot of work to disconnect all the various wires from the laptop for the big move, unless you want to move your mouse and power source with you. If you do take the time to disconnect everything, you have to put it all back together again when toilet time is completed. The American landscape is changing, and it all starts on the toilet.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this. Again working under the assumption that you did not read this link, the two major metro-Detroit area newspapers are going through some major structural changes, including eliminating home delivery on all days except Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, and they are going to be focusing more of their resources to online news delivery. I guess they are still planning on having smaller print editions available at those cash boxes you see in some suspect areas, but you have to go out of your way to pick up one of those copies (currently priced at 50 cents). I am dim-witted and would not have thought of this myself, but a reporter on Channel 4 yesterday suggested that some entrepreneurial spirit may go out and buy all of the copies from the cash boxes and then deliver them at a small premium. Since you can unfairly snatch as many copies of the newspaper from an open cash box once you have paid the 50 cents to open it, it seems like it might be time to revamp the cash box system.

How do I, important blogger, feel about these changes, you ask? I am concerned that these two major news sources are muscling in on the medium that I helped to invent, popularize, monetize, and lead to this day. From a purely habitual standpoint, I am going to hugely miss having The Free Press sitting on our kitchen table every morning. This has been the case for as long as I can remember, and now they are forced to make some difficult changes. Change is always difficult, particularly when you are changing away from something that has always been truth. It would be like you not having my blog to read every single day. I can't begin to imagine the sadness. I also feel for all of the people who are going to have to take a huge personal income hit because they are not delivering the newspaper on Monday-Wednesday and Saturday.

There are a couple things I admire about the move. While I enjoyed having the newspaper on the table every morning, I rarely would read the actual physical paper beyond the front page. Most of my local news-reading has been tons and tons of articles online for the last several years. In this respect, I don't think there will be much of a forced change to a large percentage of Michigan's population's news-consumption behavior. At a time when Michigan is widely criticized for always being reactive and way too far behind the curve, it is refreshing to see these two organizations jumping miles ahead of the rest of the country in their attempt to modify themselves to align with current (or future) news-reading habits. These moves are also reflective of the economic turmoil in Michigan and that readership and paper advertising in Michigan must be way down, but they are trying to react before they have to go to the government and kindly request $34B so they can keep publishing news. These moves take grapefruit-sized balls and must be wrenching for traditional journalists and the tradition of metro-Detroit as a whole, but if not for these grapefruit-sized balls, there may not be any balls of any size left to make this type of move. I want an orange.


Jeff Caminsky said...

The other major concern, of course, is how to handle crossword puzzles---my own diversion of choice, when engaged in important matters in the Porcelin Conference Room, as well as a reliable "emergency backup system" in the event that a sudden and unexpected shortage of critical resources manifests itself during the conference. I doubt that a laptop will prove interchangeable, in either circumstance.

In addition, I suspect that the papers have completely ignored the needs of those who use newspapers to pad their packages during the holiday season. Laptops just won't provide the same amount of cushioning...and it might get rather expensive to use laptops to pack around the Christmas presents we send to all our little nieces and nephews.

Aunt Cathie said...

Worse yet, you only get one Freep in your home subscription. See and click on the "Will I receive two home delivery days only now" question. On Thursday and Friday you get the Detroit News, not the Free Press. Sunday is the only day on which you will receive a true Freep.