My local newspaper is an expensive delivery system for junk mail

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by PriuStorm, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. PriuStorm

    PriuStorm Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    2,239
    149
    0
    Location:
    Davis, CA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Our local paper here in Davis is not a news paper, per se... we get a smattering of world news, local news, the obits and other things. And of course, we get the ad papers. But I buy it for the local news and events, information that is otherwise difficult to get.

    When I read the Sunday paper, I always remove the ads first so I can go through the 'meat' of the paper first, so to speak. As I was going through yesterday's paper, I was shocked at how little was left this time after the sort. I was actually curious how much of my $1.50 paper was actually information.

    So I decided to check by weight.

    The entire paper weighed 925 grams, about 2 pounds.

    Of that, 775 grams was just the ads and rag mag in the middle. Add another 25 grams for the Classifieds/car ads section.

    The remaining 100 grams of paper consisted of 4 sections, including the comics section, all together 26 pages. Of that, 4 pages were the comics, and 6.5 pages was more advertising.

    Finally, 15.5 pages was actual news and articles. Proportionally that is about 60 grams out of the 100.

    That means out of the entire 2 pound paper, about 2 ounces was information.

    Essentially, the newspaper is just a vehicle that I pay for to deliver junk mail on Sundays.

    I can hear the rebuttals already.... 'those ads are information, too... how else would you know what's on sale?'.

    Yes, that may be true... but it seems to me that the ads are not only more voluminous but also more desperate. There's more of those 'giveaway' type things to get people into the stores which will hopefully keep them there spending. That only works if people actually look at the ads, but if you're like me, I just separate it out, and maybe (that's a big maybe) I go back and look at one or two flyers. There is no way to go through all that advertising information, so retailers are essentially wasting resources and money clogging up the newspaper.

    Going through the newspaper and looking for the informative news is like going through the Publisher's Clearinghouse looking for the coupons to paste on your entry form. And I pay for that!

    This isn't earth shattering news to anyone, I'm sure. I wish there was an opt-out like there is with junkmail and catalogs.
     
  2. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    18,058
    3,050
    7
    Location:
    Northern Michigan
    Vehicle:
    2006 Prius
    Newspapers are dieing. Many of the big ones are in trouble.

    Tom
     
  3. Fraser

    Fraser New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    667
    9
    1
    Location:
    Navarre, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    It's Christmas. Of course you're going to get heavier ad volume. And, yes, it all is information. It also pays for the news columns that you prefer to read (I prefer those, too). Not counting the pre-printed inserts/circulars, most American newspapers try to have a minimum of 50 percent news, 50 percent ads in the regular paper. Publishers would really like to have about 70 percent ads in order to make a profit so they may continue to provide their product.

    A couple of questions: In reading the meat of your paper, did you notice any stories mssing that you would have liked to have read? Did you read anything in the paper that you thought was particularly interesting? That's a better guage of the value of your $1.50 than trying to weigh the product like a steak (using your meat metaphor). BTW, two pounds isn't a really big paper. I once weighed an issue of the paper I worked for and it came in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces -- and we were a medium-circulation paper -- with some special news sections for our readers.
     
  4. Fraser

    Fraser New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    667
    9
    1
    Location:
    Navarre, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Tom, you're spot on. Printed newspapers probably never will completely die -- right now, hard copy reading is deeply ingrained in us. But I believe, and have thought so for more than 20 years, that electronic versions of news dissemination efforts are going to supplant the paper products. We have 24/7 access to news reports, rapid updates, and the ability to choose our likes and dislikes for determining which news we want to read (although that ability comes with some potentially terrifying pitfalls). As far as buying a hard-copy paper, if it is set up right, an electronic version with a print feature can do the same thing. In fact, at least one major news company has all its papers available on line (at a modest cost) as it looks in print -- ads and all -- and readers can actually print the pages/ads they want.
     
  5. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    15,231
    1,561
    0
    Location:
    off into the sunset
    Vehicle:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Television's just an advertising delivery system, too.
     
  6. bedrock8x

    bedrock8x Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    1,483
    134
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    If you look at it this way, you have two pounds of paper delivered to your house for $1.50. It will cost $4.80 to deliver 2 lbs of junk mail priority over night by USPS to your house. Is it cheaper?
     
  7. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    4,319
    1,526
    0
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    I
    There is a second part of the problem. The "news" contains more opinion and entertainment or canned stories thatare just pulled from a "universal" source. True reporting and investigation is now left to freelancers rather than news organizations.
     
  8. PriuStorm

    PriuStorm Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    2,239
    149
    0
    Location:
    Davis, CA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Well yah, but I don't have actual money leaving my pocket just for the purpose of receiving the two pounds of junk mail that ends up in my mailbox. I'm sure I pay for it at the register, but that's another story.

    You know, after I did my little experiment, I decided to go for a walk and entirely skipped reading the paper.

    I know you're right, of course... the Davis paper is no comparison to our neighbor, the SF Chronicle or other big city papers. My frustration isn't with the lack of 2 pounds of news (we don't even have that on the day after the city council meeting).

    I was really just lamenting the waste.... wasted paper, wasted ink, wasted dollars, and my personal complicit contribution to that waste by supporting the paper with a purchase.
     
  9. SDP40F501

    SDP40F501 Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    81
    1
    8
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Complaint noted. I recycle a lot of stuff out of the local Sunday paper, too, and I also get the Chicago Tribune, which has practically no dreck that needs to be 'deboned.' That's probably because being 90 miles away from Chicago I'm less likely to patronize Chicago merchants, so why should they pay to send me anything? And that of course is the bottom line. If an advertiser will pay for it, the paper will carry it, because they make their dough off that, not off your $1.50 (or $1.75, or $2.00, or ???). And fewer and fewer papers are making enough off the two combined to stay afloat, as previously stated. I wish it were otherwise, and I wish people had the time and attention span to actually read a newspaper, but then I get emails from professionals at work peppered with "text-speak." But I digress ...

    The local rag (which I used to work for, so I can call it that :)) now requires subscribers to 'opt-in' to get the weekly television section. I guess enough people have cable that they can get their TV listings right off the tube. Don't expect any paper to do that with advertising, though!

    Want a fun assignment? Do a content analysis of your local TV newscast. Pretend it's costing you $1 a minute to watch it, and then add up what you really use compared to the dreck you would have tossed if it were sitting in your lap. Your time is valuable here, too (and probably a lot more than $1 a minute, no offense intended!). You will probably "pay" $5 for content you want and $25 for ads, if-it-bleeds-it-leads sensational stuff, too much weather and sports, and the obligatory puppy adoption story from the local pound. I don't know how that would translate to your weighing the paper, but there might be a correlation!

    I'm sure someone has figured out a good way to do that with Internet sites, too, but of course PriusChat would always be top-shelf! :eyebrows:

    Jim
     
  10. Fraser

    Fraser New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    667
    9
    1
    Location:
    Navarre, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    Sorry, can't agree with any of that. The definition of "news" is always bandied about by reporters and editors, but most agree it invovles information that people would like to know. "Entertainment" as a category certainly is news according to the basic definition, even if it is only Paris and Britney. "Canned" stories doesn't mean anything; feature stories are pulled from "off-wires" -- McClatchey, Tribune Media and the like -- that don't normally supply breaking news, and they are very readable; i.e., newsworthy, as in recent stories on Pearl Harbor. AP, which is No. 1 for breaking news, regularly produces feature stories that often are played as the main story on Sunday's Page 1 or Lifestyle or Sports. Your reference to "true reporting" doesn't cut it -- I once spent months tracking down a story that was a feature piece, but it involved as much hard-work investigative reporting as I ever did. And freelancers rarely do investigative pieces for mainline newspapers.
     
  11. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    4,319
    1,526
    0
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    I
    I actually went through the newspapers I received over the last week. With your definition, I have to agree with you. There is an overabundance of editorial pieces, but given the real constraints that newspapers are under, I was too far off base. However, hard-work investigation is much too rare and I wish there was much more of the hard work like you described.
     
  12. paulccullen

    paulccullen New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    276
    3
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Love 'em or hate 'em, ads are here to stay. They're an ingrained part of the way our culture/economy works.

    Those newspaper ads are why you pay so little for the paper. Without the ads, the actual cost (the entire production cost divided by the copies sold) is probably a lot more than the buck-fifty you pay.

    And ads make TV watching free (not counting cable/satellite service, but that's another story). Without ads you'd have to pay a fee to every TV channel you watch. Even bus fares would be higher if it weren't for those ads on the side.

    When I used to get the Sunday paper, I liked all the ads. They were a great source of fire-starting material on a cold winter evening. :)
     
  13. skruse

    skruse Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2004
    1,454
    96
    0
    Location:
    Coloma CA - Sierra Nevada
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I realize the ads help pay for the paper, but it seems bizarre that I have to deconstruct (remove several kilograms of pulp) every paper before I can read anything. It is an incredible waste of paper, effort and time. On Sundays we get both the San Francisco Chronicle and The Fresno Bee. The Bee consistently has more ads (number and mass) - while the Chronicle has a larger circulation over a larger geographic area (northern California). Newspapers are in trouble and searching for profitable solutions. Contributing to greater and greater solid waste is not an answer.
     
  14. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    10,339
    14
    0
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Vehicle:
    2005 Prius
    Actually, I was going to say that it's the ads, the junk, that fiscally supports the paper.

    The U.S. mailman told me that it's those junk mail flyers that support the U.S. postal service. If it wasn't for the bulk mail stuff the postage paid for everything else would go way up. He hates delivering the stuff but realizes it pays his salary. And unlike other mail, he doesn't have to sort it, just drop a chunk at each address.
     
  15. Fraser

    Fraser New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    667
    9
    1
    Location:
    Navarre, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    If you examined all of a week's worth of papers in detail, you may have the makings of an investigative reporter. (That may not be a good thing.)

    But I'd like to point out that there is a lot of investigation into stories of all types, not just Watergate journalism. Simply determining the facts of a routine meeting can be investigative and often more difficult than finding out if Nixon played dirty. In the St. Pete Times, you have one of the leaders in good journalism nearby.
     
  16. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    4,319
    1,526
    0
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    I
    Yesterday, I made the effort to read the Front Page of the St. Pete Times from 1924. I was really surprised because it would have been indistinguishable from today's papers. The leading stories were:
    1) The Owen's valley rebellions in CA over Los Angles water rights. (LA has a water problem!)
    2) How the Ketchup King in NYC was assailed by a woman threatening to "Blow his head off with a Gun". Quite the scandal with here jumping into his car (while moving!) and resulting in her arrest. (Celebrity Gossip involving a stalker!)

    What is news has not changed. Now I'm sure there were unhappy letters to the editor about the need for more investigative reporting back then as well.

    Unfortunately, I do not know how much of the Sunday paper was advertising back then.
     
  17. PriuStorm

    PriuStorm Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    2,239
    149
    0
    Location:
    Davis, CA
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    I'd bet a dollar it wasn't 94%.
     
Loading...