Saturday, April 25, 2009

How about a la carte newspapers?

I have been watching with dismay as our local newspapers consolidate and/or vanish, local news disappearing with each change. I am seeing all too many last columns from favorite columnists.

One of the hiking blogs I follow is Tom Mangan's Two Heel Drive, a local newspaperman, he gives some insider's views of the industry. His travails have prompted some thoughts of my own.

Our local papers are the Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle. At one time we subscribed to both, but the Tribune stopped coming months ago, and their customer service - entirely online and devoid of human contact of course, says we are not subscribers. ok, my favorite columnist there, Brenda Payton, was gone, so we said forget the Tribune, the Chronicle will be enough. Now the Trib sends us a renewal notice?!

Anyway, our budget is getting a little tight, and the Chron is now more than $30 per month, and the Trib is $24 per year, so we are thinking of switching just to the Trib, even though we will miss Tom Stienstra, Chip Johnson, Maiter and Ross, Kathleen Pender, Jon Carroll. This idea is still percolating, when I get an email from the Chron. $99 a year to get an exact copy of the paper online. I think we are going to go for the Chron online, and the Trib in hardcopy, but I would really prefer to get one printed paper with all the news and local ads, unless...

They included or leased at a trivial rate, a lightweight picture frame reader, about 18 x 24 inches, so I could still read the paper at the breakfast table, and...

I really want the content a la carte. I select the columnists, the sections, can exclude features. For $15 per month, I get everything I want. Otherwise, $1 per choice - 7 columnists, $7, that plus business, $8, that plus business and front section, $9, etc. Now the ads. I wnat to choose, and I want a credit. Allow all the ads, $15 per month credit. $2 per month credit for the ones I choose up to max of $15 per month. I can choose to get more ads, but no more credits. For example, available ads would be Safeway, Luckys, Home Depot, Lowes, BestBuy, Sears, Macys, all groceries, all dept stores, all electronics, etc. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009

Now, my most outrageous request is that I would prefer this in printed form, in my driveway in the morning. That doesn't seem very practical, so how about an option. You can get hardcopy ads, either daily or on Sundays, but you have to get all the ads. The hardcopy content would be printed locally, on some big laser printer in the local Kinkos or UPS stores, or maybe even in the local grocery stores, and delivered by local delivery people, not someone 40 miles away.