No news is bad news and other stories

by Pete Talbot

After reading jhwygirl’s various and sundry for the weekend, I stumbled across a few stories that also deserve attention.

First, I get most of my information the old-fashioned way: newspapers. As a matter of fact, most of the nuggets in this post were gleaned from local, regional and national newspapers.

So, this news, that the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are drastically cutting newspaper delivery was a downer. Of course, staffs and content will also be cut. And as the New York Times explains in the story, other papers around the country may follow suit.

Will the Internet pick up the slack? It seems unlikely since online revenue from websites is a fraction of the revenue generated by advertising in the old, dead tree editions.

What about our local newspapers? Well, one of the Missoula Independent’s cheap holiday gift ideas were shares of stock in Lee Enterprises (publisher of the Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette, Helena Independent-Record and Butte’s Montana Standard). Shares in Lee are going for around 50 cents, down 98 percent from a year ago.

I was surprised that the Indy included this in their list as I can’t imagine its profits are soaring, either, although it does fill a bit different niche.

Despite our criticism of local newspapers, reporters and editors, the demise of our dailies would be a great loss.

I gotta get me one of them dolls

Here’s an example of a local story that had me wondering in amazement. Reporter Jamie Kelly must have had a hard time writing this piece with a straight face.

Any doll that says “Islam is the light” or “Satan is king” deserves a place under my Christmas tree. Please, K-Mart, put them back on the shelf.

The financial crisis explained

Another reason I love my paper is the comics. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, I’d read the Chicago Tribune’s comics at my grandfather’s knee: Dick Tracy, L’il Abner, Mark Trail (Dick Tracy had this cool two-way wrist radio — the predecessor to today’s cell phone).

I still read the comics everyday. Saturday’s Dilbert unravels the mysteries of the current financial meltdown.

A conundrum

So here I sit, writing about the glories of newspapers on this blog site — a format that probably doesn’t reinforce, for the most part, newspaper readership.

And old 4&20 Blackbirds is doing OK. Sometime on Friday, around 4 p.m., we got our 400,000th visit. While this isn’t huge in terms of Daily Kos or Huffington Post, it ain’t bad for a local blog.

Kudos to Jay Stevens, who started this blog; jhwygirl, the site’s current bread-and-butter writer; Rebecca Schmitz (best headlines); our newest contributor, problembear; Jamie, Jason, et al.

And thanks to our readers and especially those who contribute comments.


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  1. goof houlihan

    Bozeman’s Tributary which had been somewhat of an independent paper, until it was purchased by the the big boys, closed up. No more Best of Bozeman contests or additional outlets for the laid off Chronicle writers. Both the Belgrade and the Big Sky papers are just spin offs of the Chronicle.

    I don’t know how High Country News in Colorado is doing. They once were quite the interesting pro West paper but have taken a sharp turn to the left.

    Local government and human interest seem to be the best reasons for local papers. National and sports news are better served on the WWW.

  2. Oyster Pirate

    Most of the leftists at High Country News are far more “pro west” than the extractionist demogogues bottom-feeding as right-wing politicians here in the west.

  3. klemz

    “I was surprised that the Indy included this in their list as I can’t imagine its profits are soaring, either, although it does fill a bit different niche.”

    I think the difference is that we’re used to being poor.

  4. JC

    Well, sometimes the news isn’t all that good either, like the Washington Post reports on todayfor Lee Enterprises:

    <a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/16/AR2008121601422.html””Lee Enterprises Faces Possible Default”

    Tough times for the company and it’s local employees.

  5. Pogo Possum

    Pete, jhwygirl, Jay Stevens, Rebecca, et al.,

    Please accept my sincere congratulations on your 400,000th visit!

  6. goof houlihan

    Hey, my computer’s broke. Everytime I click on “tools” the screen comes up with Oyster Pirate’s post.




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