Letter to the editor: Why newspapers are folding

December 8, 2014

newspapper gutterOPINION By ALLAN COOPER

I am one of the few people I know who actually enjoys reading a daily newspaper printed on paper and delivered to my door. However, many years have passed, and I’m not counting, when I have repeatedly complained to my local newspaper that I have not had a paper delivered.

I call early in the morning when I can actually speak to a real person and still nothing happens. Later in the day a “robot” answers when I call and promptly tells me that today’s paper will be delivered to my house tomorrow. Does it surprise anyone that I’m not interested in day-old news?

When the paper is delivered, it lands on the roof or windshield of a parked car, in the street gutter or on the sidewalk where random pedestrians frequently pick it up to save themselves a dollar. I call again and complain about how this paper is delivered and I’m told that the situation will be corrected (it isn’t).

I believe that this paper’s so-called “customer service” is grievously wanting. The people who answer the phone these days have trouble understanding the word “broad” for Broad Street and I have to spell it out. I give them my three number address and they spit back six numbers. Their speech mannerisms are unintelligible and I sometimes wonder if I’m connected to a “call center” in some foreign country.

It has become clear to me why one newspaper after another (with the exception of New Times who do not make paper deliveries and paperless CalCoastNews) is folding in this country and it has less to do with the appeal of e-papers than you might think.

Allan Cooper is a retired Cal Poly professor and a member of Save Our Downtown.

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A look back at genuine, personal customer service…and I’m not talkin’ Mayberry.

My dad was born in Los Angeles in the 1920’s and, as a boy, sold newspapers and magazines at Union Station.

Growing up in the 1950’s in a small city tucked away in Los Angeles County, my brother maintained a paper route for the Pasadena Star News. Large bundles of newspapers were dropped off daily at our home. My brother learned indispensable life lessons in responsibility through daily folding newspapers (rain or shine) and loading them into cloth bicycle sacks. I was in awe of his ability to maintain his balance with a bicycle so heavy laden with newspapers! He excelled in porching every newspaper and delivering on time. Occasionally he’d “miss his mark” and turn his bicycle around to go back and retrieve an “off-target” newspaper and make sure it was porched. When there was a rare problem [the dog down the street stole the paper], the customer called him (not The Star News), and the problem got resolved quickly. His customers appreciated his service so much that this time every year while doing his monthly collections, they rewarded him with generous Christmas tips. What incentive for a youngster!

Our daughters used to deliver The Telegram Tribune until the newspaper’s hierarchy decided a morning paper would be better. That decision effectively eliminated newspaper delivery jobs for school-age kids! Way too bad since it was an excellent opportunity for young people to discover the merits of dependability and accountability.

Today’s Tribune is delivered by drivers who probably don’t possess the same level of pride as the young people who formerly delivered the newspaper. If the paper is delivered late, flung under a bush, or stolen by a hooligan…who’s going to care? Like Allan wrote, “Today’s paper will be delivered to [his] house tomorrow.” Customer NoService!

I have to disagree. The Tribune driver also delivers my Wall Street Journal and it is placed

right on my front walk each and every day. The service is excellent.

The reason the Tribune gets lighter and lighter is content. Most of it is composed of

AP wire stories. The local stuff is not fair and balanced, shown by the coverage of the Jim

Hill campaign and the “July 3rd Incident” in AG.

The press is given a sacred charge to provide the truth to the people. Most of the press

today protects government, not the people.

You must be the exception. I can go out and pick up my Trib in the morning, look up and down my street and it is at the end of every drive.

Oh and yea let’s talk about how many wet papers because they don’t read about the weather reports and rain or when they do bag, they single bag and the bag is so thin, the water osmosis’s through the bag in no time.

Couldn’t agree more. Growing up in Southern CA. I threw papers for a little over three years and like you said, back then it was PUT IT ON THE PORCH!!! A lot of my route had these three foot by three foot slabs for front porch. I one time had one land on porch, slide so it was leaning at angle from ground to porch and the customer called and complained!!! Yea b.s. but still it was fun and I really did love the challenge of throwing those papers riding my bike by and getting it right on the porch, especially with the size I described. Oh and Sunday mornings edition had to be on the porch by seven o’clock. Yep good times.

I have news for you, it IS a foreign call center you are talking to.

This is where I come for local news and international news I get from sources outside of North America. I cut the cord in 2003 and haven’t looked back. The decline of established news media isn’t due to poor customer service, it’s due to a failure to provide the news.

“People increasingly judge the media by the web, not the web by the media.”

I prefer reading print newspapers…I learned to read on my mother’s lap as she read through the LATimes. We started with the comics and moved on from there. So there is an emotional attachment.

I love the feel of holding a newspaper.

I love being able to read the large pages of a newspaper and easily scan through pages.

I would LOVE to get my daily LATimes by home delivery, but the home delivery here in AG is undependable and is not delivered early enough so my husband can read the paper before he leaves for work.

In fact, I love reading a print newspaper so much that–because of the home delivery issues locally– I buy one every day from the local 7-11.

When we moved to AG, I was shocked to learn of their late and unreliable delivery. When I moved from LA, (first to Ventura County and then Santa Barbara before before settling down in AG) the daily delivery continued seamlessly, no matter where I lived.

I have complained to the LATimes several times and they drop-kick it to the whim of the local delivery service. Calls to the local delivery service were met with a “That’s our schedule, can’t change it” answer.

The only print paper in our area is, of course, the Tribune, which I never bothered subscribing because of the bizarre nature of their coverage of issues.

I understand that there are many challenges facing print-media services, and I am sympathetic to them.

But, honest to god, could they even at least TRY to make it easier for the regular reader to get the paper delivered at a reasonable time?

The well-informed individual:

1970: Read two or more newspapers per day (usually a morning and evening paper) and watched the news once or twice in the evening.

2014: Checks their custom configured news reader on their computer or phone for updates at least hourly while they are awake.

If the Tribune had a real publisher at the helm they would be focused on more content and selling digital subscriptions and less on their failing paper. Their lack of content is what’s going to ultimately kill them.

They would have to significantly up their digital content to convince even their loyal readers to pay for digital content.

Well I’m assuming this rant is about the Fibune (formerly Telegram Trivial). If it’s dying , then I say good riddance! This “worse than nothing” embarrassment to journalism gets everything it deserves! Talk about worst. If they had done anything like an even poor job of being the “Fourth branch of government” imagine all the County train wrecks that could have been avoided!

Worse than nothing.

Why are newspapers folding? Let’s take the local Tribune for instance. In addition to delivery issues the following is also slowly killing them:

* The price. Who in their right mind would buy a paper today? Subscribe to the Tribune’s digital edition (or just surf for free) and view it using a handheld reader at breakfast.

* Operational costs. Newsprint, ink, fuel, manpower, machinery, rent, etc.

* The non-green waste of all of the above.

* Non-timely content. Printed news cannot compete with the web.

* Limited content. The Tribune often looks like a coupon clipper these days. It’s often as thin as Trader Joe’s little “newspaper.”

* Heavily biased content. The Tribune has an agenda based on $$$, on survival and I find it to be repugnant. Cuddy’s “Swamp Gas” article was the end for me.

Add one more to your list — lack of reporters who do anything more than rewrite press releases and have no ability to do actual in-depth reporting on anything but parades and special events.

YES. That is what I love about CCN. Not every article can, or should be, an in-depth article, but when it is needed, CCN delivers.

QUOTING SamLOUIS: “* Limited content. The Tribune often looks like a coupon clipper these days. It’s often as thin as Trader Joe’s little “newspaper.”


Not only is the Trib about as thin as TJ’s little newspaper, TJ’s little newspaper is better written, too.

Papers are folding because they don’t fit in the paperboy’s bags otherwise.

Do those people you have to deal with actually speak good English? If so, that’s unique.