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.

7 Comments

  1. Yes, a long time ago.

    But… I never had any real regard for newspapers. Except, that they were handy for starting a fire. Otherwise, they were just the propaganda tool of those commercial and political interests that they served. Fake news, they were, long before Donald Trump said it.

    Still, I’d buy them, sometimes, once upon a time, because they cost little and it was important to know who was manipulating who and how it was being done. Now I get my fake news online.

    Here’s my take on the last local story that I read:
    http://users.eastlink.ca/~bxs/dumb_and_dumber.html

    One has to pay a fat fee to an internet service provider to get online. I’m not about to pay a second time to get “news”. That won’t help me start a fire. Thank the fairies and pixies at the bottom of the garden for good old-fashioned junk mail paper that still arrives at my doorstep! It would be nice, however, if they’d deliver it scrunched up, ready for the fire.

    I do not concern myself about the fate of newspapers. Rather, I concern myself about whether or not I should continue to shell out for the internet access. There was a time when I saw the internet in the same way that Barlow wrote about it:
    https://www.eff.org/cyberspace-independence
    But, no more. Now the cyberspace is just another name for scammers, which is to say “the same commercial rot that infects the physical world.”

    Ah, to be shot of it all!

    Paul Ehrlich tells us that civilization will fail within a few decades. I know that it must be so because I read about it in The Guardian. Or was I dreaming? Regardless, I can’t wait. In the words of our intrepid star captain, “Make it so.”

  2. San Diego’s Union Tribune has Bradley Fikes. LA Times has Michael Hiltzik. I have online subscriptions to both newspapers. But I have the New York Times delivered…I need to get newsprint on my fingers sometimes.
    This means that I miss the full-page stem cell “clinic” ads, but someone usually tells me.

  3. I’m wondering if contacting the newspaper as a concerned consumer may yield results, especially about the ad. Let them know you may leave their subscription due to the poor quality of the ad!

    • I did contact the paper, but no luck. I think the advertising revenue in the paper’s view is important enough for them financially to not worry about the impact of the clinic ad.

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