December/27/2012 7:48AM
Write Comment
Please follow and like us:

Newspapers are going broke. The experts say the Internet is killing the print media business. Only we elders resort to papers for news.

Often, as I’m gathering the four papers we have delivered at the cusp of dawn, some neighbor being dragged by a dog on a leash will make some comment about the quantity of reading material I’m collecting. I stifle a thought that a space alien looking down on the scene watching a human picking up dog crap might consider the dog the ruling class on earth.

I can overlook the liberal bias in the print media we collect. It’s balanced somewhat by the Wall Street Journal. Here’s the real truth behind the four papers. It’s all about sports and crossword puzzles. Both work better in print and go well with coffee. The 10 PM news devotes about 3 minutes to sports and it’s poorly done. I can’t deal with the all-sports channels. Plus, we are told to feed our brains as we age. Crossword puzzles get progressively hard as the week goes on. Those Friday and Saturday puzzles are real challenges. I haven’t left a blank space in a crossword puzzle in years. It’s a personal thing.

I have another theory about why newspapers are going broke. It’s called incompetence. Ask any snowbird and they will tell you the same thing. Yesterday was what I call, “test the print media stupidity,” day. I deal with 5 newspapers on that day. Here’s the recap.

My wife takes a paper that has regional news called the Daily Herald. To stop that paper for four months and restart it on a specific date is simple. I go to the website and click on date on a calendar and click a second date and I’m done. Immediately I get an email confirmation that delivery will stop on a date and restart on the second date. The process takes less than a minute and it works.

On to the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Newspaper”, the Chicago Tribune, also known as “Dewey Beats Truman”. Emerging from bankruptcy, it’s no bastion of good business judgment. Actually by my barometer, it’s getting worse. I don’t read much of it, but I love their crossword puzzles. To stop and restart the Tribune, one must speak to a humanoid. You can stop it for up to 30 days on-line, but prior to this year, to stop it longer you needed to talk to a “customer service rep”. You can guess the drill. Push 3, put in phone number, put in house number, etc. But this year the Tribune implemented a new policy. To stop home delivery you must have the person cancel the subscription. Then you must call and restart. In the past they couldn’t put in a stop and restart date, just a stop date. Now they must issue a check for the balance you owe, then you become a new home delivery customer in four months. Wouldn’t you like to have a chat with the genius who did this?

The USA Today needs a chat to change address. Usually they are pretty good. This year the young man who answered the first call was obviously a substance abuser on his substance. He got the phone number from me and then asked me if my name was Caldwell, we got that fixed, then asked me if I was in Nevada, no, that’s when I asked him if he was on Mars and he hung up. I called back and got a young lady and we got it done in only 5 minutes.

The Wall Street Journal is no bargain. It takes a long time to get through and there are far too many questions. But, wonders of all wonders in this computer world, they actually keep records and know the forwarding address, etc. And, they can type in a restart address so you don’t have to call back. But, based on past experience, that never really works. The paper doesn’t show up in Illinois until a week or two after the restart date.

Starting the Arizona Republic on the other end used to be the worst. It’s gotten better and only took 5 minutes. Part of that was trying to sell me a 6 month package when she knew I was going to be there for four.

One thing is consistent in all papers mentioned above. You must look hard to find customer information on all of the web sites. None recognize the paper runs or doesn’t run on customers. Maybe, just maybe, this has more to do with their business issues than the Internet. If it weren’t for the sports and puzzles I would only read the Wall Street Journal. Combine a crappy far- left  product with a terrible customer experience and a marginal product delivery system and it’s a wonder they sell any papers at all. While the Daily Herald is easy to start and stop, the delivery person seems to have sporadic alarm clock problems that amazingly get better right before the Christmas address for the gift appears.

I’m hard core. I’ll spend that entertaining hour and a half twice a year to get my papers delivered. It’s amusing to see how incompetent an entire industry can be. It reminds me of Amtrak and the US Postal Service. Maybe the government will take over the print media when we become Russia and we can see how bad it can really get. The government will remove the sports and puzzles.

Oops. I may have spoken too soon on the WSJ. Here’s the e-mail response I received. Is it an address change or a suspension of the paper for four months. You tell me.

The following important message regarding your Wall Street Journal subscription is being sent from an address that does not accept correspondence.
Dear Subscriber,
Just a reminder that delivery of your Wall Street Journal will be temporarily suspended beginning on the date below:
If you would like to change the date, or avoid suspending delivery altogether, click here:
Thank you for using to manage your Wall Street Journal account.
When you select The Wall Street Journal as your free newspaper preference in your Marriott Rewards profile, you'll always receive it at participating Marriott full-service properties. ACT NOW!Go to and choose THE JOURNAL.
Best Regards, Customer Service Dow Jones & Company 1-800-JOURNAL (568-7625)

Please follow and like us:

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

Leave a Reply