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!

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