Monday, January 28, 2008

Writing for People that Don't Read

I was greeted in the supermarket by a rep for the Trib asking me to subscribe. I told we read the paper already, then complained the paper was shrinking.

"Oh, yes, it's a bit smaller now," he said.

"No," I responded. "I meant the writing was shrinking."

"You mean the content?"


"Well, they're trying to make the paper more appealing to the people that aren't reading it already."

"It seems like a bad strategy to change the paper to appeal to people that don't read the newspaper," I responded.

The man looks around, then leans forward.

"I completely agree," he says, under his breath.

Meanwhile, here's an exchange from an interview with Jim O'Shea, former Trib editor, who was recently ousted from sister paper the LA Times for refusing to further cut the staff:

KURTZ: Now, you were the Tribune loyalist who was sent out to patch things up after Dean Baquet's firing. You were the company man. You've worked for the Tribune Company since the late 1970s.

What happened?

O'SHEA: Well, I don't -- you know, I do think -- think there comes a point in every person's career and life where you really decide, OK, where do I take a stand? What is enough? And I just came to that point. And I am -- I've been with the Tribune a long time. And believe me, I've cut a lot of budgets. And I'm not some, you know, starry-eyed Pollyanna running around thinking the industry doesn't have trouble. I just think we need to change our approach.

I think we need to invest in journalism. Let's try that for once. Let's see what happens when you invest in a paper and you make it better, and people then -- advertisers and readers come to you instead of fleeing you.


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