The disappearing news-paper.
Her last known photograph shows Queen Elizabeth v2.0 smiling but much aged at her beloved Balmoral castle, awaiting her last prime minister. Examine her hands. They are black and blue. Observed the same in my last two visits with an ailing friend here in the Madison WI area, shortly before his death.
Detecting the same tell tale signs of necrosis in Madison’s favorite (and only) morning daily newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. How much longer does it have — at least, in print form?
First it was Brewers games. A standing box on page 2 of the sports section told you they were to play the night before and directed fans to go on-line to find the result. Never expected results for games played on the West coast but now even night games in Milwaukee are delayed. (And the website doesn’t make them easy to find.)
Disappearing our comics isn’t funny!
The patient took another turn for the worse with today’s announcement that subscribers must go on-line for their favorite comics. Makes no sense! Comics are hardly deadline-driven. The indentured servants here at Stately Blaska Manor are especially enamored of Arlo & Janis and Frazz, which now can be found only on-line. But where is Dilbert? Crankshaft? Beetle Bailey, Rex Morgan? Disappearing (verb, transitive) Hagar the Horrible is horrible!
Someone said that no method of communication ever goes away — that somewhere, someone, upon occasion — is sending smoke signals. Maybe so. The advantage of print is that it lands on your lap, gets in your face. It’s why political candidates flood your mailboxes with the oversized campaign mailers. Candidate websites — hell, your favorite blogge — must be searched for.
Reading news and commentary on-line works for us but comic strips don’t seem to translate electronically.
Hard times for newspapers
A Capital Times colleague, the late Mike Miller, noted that with every electronic production advancement the deadline moved earlier rather than later. We put out three editions until around 1980 — the first for far-flung delivery to places like Baraboo and Monroe. The last for city distribution.
Speaking of which, The Capital Times was one of only about 550 afternoon papers remaining in the U.S. when it gave up daily print publication on April 26, 2008. Only two are said to survive today, both in Montana.
Pew Research reports total weekday circulation — print and on-line — is down 40% since 2015. The decline in print-only is a more dramatic 55%. Advertising revenue is down 40% in just three years! Newsprint is also more expensive (inflation and supply chain). Finding delivery people is a headache, judging from the large number of openings the WI State Journal advertises. (Remember paper boys on bicycles?)
Growing up in the 1950s, brother Mike-boy and I would station ourselves behind dad on the couch as he read us the comics in The Capital Times: Alley Oop (with Professor Wonmug), Priscilla’s Pop, Out Our Way, Snuffy Smith, the adventures of Steve Roper (and Mike Nomad), and Our Boarding House (with Major Hoople).
Blaska’s Bottom Line: The proprietor of this newsstand credits/blames that experience for turning the boy into the superannuated scrivener he has become.