When newspaper staffers don’t read the paper

What would you do if you ran a newspaper and half of your employees didn’t bother to read your product? That’s the question I asked on my Facebook page when I linked to John Robinson’s “What Would You Do? blog post. Here are some comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers:

Martin L. Cahn
First: not all writers in a newsroom fit the paper’s demographic. I know our newspaper skews higher than the mid-20s staff reporters we have. That’s neither an indictment of them or the paper; just reality. Second: not everyone that works for a paper has time to read the very paper they work for. I’m the associate editor of my paper and goodness knows I don’t always have the time to read every single word in it.

Tony Marcano
Many many years ago on “The Odd Couple,” the Oscar Madison character said, “I don’t have to read the paper. I write the paper.” I’ve known many reporters and editors with the same view.

James Brinton
Whether one subscribed or not, everybody in our place was expected to read the pub cover to cover. It was surprising how many half-baked, and already-covered stories went away when they did. Always stay up to date on what your pub has covered.

Peter Ashkenaz
i was a TV assignments editor in the late 70’s and none of my reporters (all in their 20’s) or shooters even watched our newscast if they didn’t have a story in the rundown. Most had no idea what anyone else was working on, which resulted in a lack of context. I wanted to give them a quiz on local news on Fridays but my news director wouldn’t let me.

Amy DeVries Calder
Would a restaurant fire employees who didn’t eat there? I don’t understand why a person who works for any company should be expected to pay to use their services./CONTINUES

Joseph DeRienzo
i’d provide copies for the staff then assign them each a section that has nothing to do with them read threw it and ask for their imput on how to improve it or what they liked about it eventually if the paper doesn’t suck they might come to enjoy it and might actually want to read it

Elaine Clisham
I think it’s lack of engagement, stemming partly from the paltry wages we pay reporters at smaller papers and partly from what I call the Woodward and Bernstein effect — i.e., ever since Watergate every print reporter wants to work at the Washington Post and bring down a president, and covering local school boards is just a stepping-stone to that goal.

Stuart Glascock
I recall my first day as a reporter at a mid-size daily. I had relocated myself across country to work in this major market. The pay was very low. I was stunned — absobloominglutely stunned – when the paper denied my humble request for a comp home delivery subscription. At the time, I could barely afford to live in my newly adopted community, and here was my employer eagerly squeezing another $10 a month from me. This industry has been eating its young for years.

Carmen Sisson
Our paper provides a free subscription to all employees. That being said, many days I’m too exhausted by the time I get home to actually read it. I often step over it and just walk in the house. BUT, here’s the thing: I usually snatch one right off the press and at least flip through quickly to look at the layout and design, photos, etc.

Martin Langeveld
Actually, if 50 percent of your employees read your newspapers, that’s much better than the average household reach of newspapers these days, which is hovering in the mid-30 percent range, and dropping annually by one or two percentage points. So if I owned that newspaper, I’d find out what’s making my employees read the paper, and use that information to grow my readership among the general public.

John Keahey
As a news editor, I subscribed through payroll deduction to my paper and my paper’s competition and read both each morning, front to back. Now retired, I still subscribe to my former employer, but not the competition. I was always surprised how many of our reporters, much younger than me of course, did not subscribe to either paper, but relied only on the free Internet access. Can’t say I blame them. They are approaching their fifth year without a raise and no 401k match.

Dan Martinez
Many excellent comments above, but you ALL missed the most important item that no one mentioned. Employees subscribing to papers doesn’t matter as much as new advertising dollars. That’s what the newspaper company studies should be looking at. How to get young people to spend money on stuff advertised in our paper, either in print or online.That’s what pays all our salaries that work in print industry. We as employees need to figure out how to get new subscribers to buy goods from advertisers in our respective papers. It’s the ad revenue that a newspaper needs to work at to stay alive. Yes we should read our papers, maybe even subscribe to them, but new ads are what keeps us all working.

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  1. Ed Murrieta said:

    I tried reading the last newspaper I worked for, the Tacoma News Tribune, but excessive military coverage, hunting features and daily news blurbs about pedophiles did not reflect my life or interests, so I did not read it. I read the Seattle Times for regional news and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer because that was a great newspaper.