Recently, I just received a rather touching email from the CEO of Gannett telling me how wonderful it is that I subscribe to the Des Moines Register.
I’ve subscribed for well over 30 years and I’ve been watching the Register literally fall apart in the last few months.
Example: I’m not even sure they have an editorial staff anymore since most of what appears in that section of the paper consists of “guest” opinions. No more Leonard Pitts, nor the ever-irritating Charles Krauthammer, nor George Will (waxing poetic on baseball when his Republican buddies aren’t doing things to his liking). I’m guessing the “guest” writers are probably unpaid as well as the former editorial staff that is likewise unpaid – as in unemployed.
Example: Not that long ago, the Register offered to print obituaries of eight lines or less at no cost. Not anymore. The obits are now a profit center and “Pay to Play” is the name of the game and it takes significant bucks to get the dearly departed’s information into the print version.
Example: On any given day the front section of the paper usually consists of maybe a dozen pages and if one separates the advertising from the news items, the ads are at least half the page content. Rumor has it (I think it was CityView that mentioned this) that the Register is giving bargain basement prices to the advertisers to, presumably, pump up the front section.
Example: At one time the front section of the daily was devoted largely to important local news on the front page, followed by national news and then the editorials. The second section was largely local news and the obits. Now it’s local news, obits, and editorials in the front section. The national news is now a reprint of USA Today. If I wanted to read USA Today, I’d buy the McPaper. I don’t need to have the damn thing as part of the paper I read on a daily basis.
Example: I noticed a few “holidays” ago that they no longer run the “closings” article which told readers what would be closed on holidays like banks, etc., and what’s delayed, like garbage pickups.
Example: Up until a few months ago the Monday edition included an article detailing where the Des Moines Police and Polk County Sheriff’s Office were setting up their speed cameras for the coming week. Not any longer.
Example: I’ve seen a steady increase in the cost of the monthly subscription. The bill I received a few weeks ago showed nearly a 15% increase over the one from the month before. No explanation, no prior notice.
Example: They’ve even screwed up the crossword puzzle. A couple of weeks ago they reprinted one that appeared just a few days earlier.
The only section of the daily that still seems to have a dedicated staff is the sports section. I’ll give them a pass on this one until they fire the paid staff and go with “guest” writers.
After all the above I started looking around for a worthy successor for my subscription.
The Ames Tribune doesn’t seem to cover anything south of Huxley. The Cedar Rapids Gazette is focused on Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. The Omaha World Herald stops looking east at the Big Muddy. The Daily Iowan and Iowa State Daily are rightly focused on their respective campuses.
Which brings me to the reason for this letter: You regularly gig the Register about shrinking readership and yet……….?
Does Cityview have the balls to become a daily?
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