I’m becoming more convinced that the death of newspapers will not come from the Internet, but from within.

As I talk to people who know I work with a newspaper, I continually hear the same refrain … that the delivery of their paper has gotten worse over the past few years. It’s an issue I know my superiors take seriously, but I also wonder, industrywide, just how much of a priority there is on maintaining superb customer service.

Mike Miner’s excellent blog had a piece a couple of weeks ago about the troubles the Chicago Tribune has had with the double whammy of picking up circulation of the rival Sun-Times and the outsourcing of its customer service center to the Philippines. A friend of mine recently confirmed their problems through a colleague who was a retired Tribune employee. Even he couldn’t get a satisfactory resolution to his delivery issues!

The industry bemoans the decline in circulation and blames a lack of new readers for the decline. That may be true, but the number of journalistic awards you have and community services you provide do don’t amount to anything if you cannot get your paper into the hands of the reader by the time he expects it!

Man…this blog thing is harder than I thought. My apologies for the times between posts.

My co-worker today showed off his new toy…”Hey, it’s an 8 gig iPod Nano, and I paid only $179 for it!”

Amazing, I thought. as I thought about the 8 gig SanDisk Sansa e280 I picked up a few weeks ago for $129.

“Does it have an FM radio?” I asked.

“Uh, no…” he said.

“Oh…well, does it record as well as play?” I asked again.

“No, it doesn’t do that, either…” he said.

So I’m thinking that my less expensive player has more features and can accept far more format types than his iPod … not to mention that I can replace the battery without sending it back to the factory … and he’s bragging to me about a good deal?

What am I missing about the iPod that makes it THE music player I must have?

While I’m on the subject of music, anyone out there know of a good system to convert vinyl into MP3 format. I’d love to add my extensive album collection onto my laptop and Sansa. Any suggestions that don’t involve advance tech skills of massive amounts of cash are appreciated.

Memories of home

I’ve watched with sadness … and sometimes tears … over the pasts several months as the first house my wife and I bought was torn down, to be replaced by a residence that almost dwarfs the lot it’s being built on.

It was a house that, 20 years ago, my newlywed wife and I put out hard-earned savings on to start our lives together. A small, 3-bedroom ranch built in the 1950s, it was structurally sound and solid. It was the house we brought our two sons to when they were born, and it is where
they learned to walk, talk, smile and laugh. There were families in this house before us that I’m sure have the same memories, and there are at least two after us also share similar thoughts.

Although, like the other families, we moved because we had outgrown the house, it still was a wonderful little home with a nice backyard in a cozy suburban neighborhood. But, most importantly, it gave us … and those before us … a nice, affordable start into our quest for the American dream.

What is being built in its place is a huge, two-story monster that, most likely, we would not be able to afford now, let alone when we were starting out. And that’s what saddens me more … that there is one less small, affordable home in our community for new families to start their lives and build their memories.

As I continue to read about the mortgage crisis and the increase in foreclosures, I continue to wonder why our local governments did not see that, by replacing our traditional “starter” homes with these so-called McMansions, they were locking out an increasing number of young people who cannot afford homes under the traditional methods, and forced to mortgage their lives away for a house that was well beyond their means.

That house served my family … and others before us … very well for its 50+ years of existence. And while I’m a firm believe in progress, I’m saddened that our community’s need to look “upscale” means new families must sacrifice muc, much more now to be a part of it.

Introduction

Good day, all. After some resistance, I’ve decided to enter the blogosphere, primarily out of boredom at my current job where the new world is colliding with the old mindsets that control modern media today. It amazes me that, at a time when newspapers should be embracing the new media, they still hold the print edition as central to the process and delivery of news. Isn’t it time to wake up and realize it’s no longer the paper portion that is the core of the business’ survival, but news. And by news, we’re talking about information that is useful to readers. That goes beyond what’s happening with my village hall. It’s where I can get a pizza in my town at 2 a.m., or what is the best place to get an oil change, or what my neighbors think is the best place to take my family on a Saturday night. In the new world, a newspaper web site is also a yellow pages, information guide and community forum. I see few papers getting it, and none of them are in the Chicago area where I live.

I’m not advocating newspapers abandon print. There still is a viable market for print that, despite the doomsayers, will continue for at least another generation or two. But that market will continue to get smaller, and the powers that be need to realize that the future competition will not only be from other papers, but from libraries, yellow pages, niche publications, etc.

I’d love to hear what those not in the media think, and what you look for when you think “news.”