October 19, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Have you given up on your local paper? I might with The Sacramento Bee

For more than a dozen years we’ve subscribed to The Sacramento Bee newspaper here in Northern California. During those dozen+ years, newspapers across the U.S. have been under huge financial pressures. At a science level, one of the terrible results of this pressure on newspapers has been the vast number of excellent science writers who have lost their jobs.

Our family is starting to wonder if The Sacramento Bee can survive. I’m a big supporter of local papers, but I’m just about to give up on the Bee even if I haven’t made a final decision.

Why? Unfortunately there are quite a few reasons.

  • The physical papers are shrinking. There’s just less in there to read in part because the paper, ink and shipping costs ad up quickly for the business. Plus, original content costs money.
  • Speaking of content, a large fraction of it in The Bee is from other media services. There are fewer local stories. How few journalists does The Bee employee these days?
  • Even despite the smaller amount of content and local content, it feels like the prices have gone way up.
  • In our neighborhood The Sacramento Bee delivery can  be horrible. It is often late in general and almost always late on weekends. Apparently, many other people feel similarly as the paper has a 1-star rating on Yelp, which is not so easy to get as 1 star is the lowest you are allowed to give I think.
  • My more personal beef: The Bee keeps running glitzy ads for unproven stem cell clinics, with the latest one popping up this weekend (above). I guess they are desperate for the money, but these ads are bad for our community and the clinics especially target vulnerable patient populations.

Have you given up on your local paper? Why or why not?

At the same time, some bigger papers like The New York Times and Washington Post seem to be doing well financially. Still, is the future of the newspaper business bleak? Some have wondered if newspapers will largely disappear.

I’m still torn about what to do with my subscription to The Sacramento Bee.

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