Skip to main content

Why I'm Subscribing to the Lawrence Journal-World



My return to Lawrence, Kansas coincided with an epochal moment in the city’s history: After 125 years of ownership by the Simons family, the Lawrence Journal-World passed to the ownership of Ogden Newspapers, a West Virginia company with newspapers all over this great country.


One consequence of the new ownership: A lot of longtime employees lost their jobs.


None of this is a surprise, exactly. Lawrence hasn’t been immune to the newspaper industry’s overall decline over the last decade; the Simons family decided they couldn’t sustain the cost anymore, and Ogden apparently decided the paper would only be sustainable at a smaller size. Even before the sale, there was less LJW than there used to be, as both the staff and the paper had shrunk in fits and starts over time.


Even though I’m a Journal-World alum, I thought about skipping a subscription when we returned. Used copies of the paper are easy enough to find on coffee shop tables or at libraries in town; I wasn’t sure the cost — $18.25 a month — was worth it. I get the New York Times online for $15 a month, and there’s more there there. What can I say? I'm cheap.


A couple of things happened, though. The second one you’ve probably heard about: John Oliver’s lament for the newspaper industry:





You know what? He’s right! Even in its diminished state, the newspaper industry is at the core of much of the journalism that happens in America. Other media — radio and TV especially, but also a lot of aggregating websites — wouldn’t have much to put on the air if they didn’t get some help from their local newspapers.


He’s also right — though less so — that we’re responsible for keeping the papers alive if we want them. In truth, the problem isn’t really audience: Add online to print readership, and most news organizations have bigger audiences than they’ve ever had. But online advertising hasn’t replaced print advertising as a source of revenue, and it’s not gonna. That does mean that newspapers will be more reliant on payments from readers (and not just monetizing their eyeballs through ads) but they’ll probably also have to find some new ways of generating revenue.

Which brings us back to the Journal-World. I chatted last week with a smart friend of mine who contemplated the paper’s future. “From now on,” he said, “the community’s going to get the paper it supports. Before, it got the paper Dolph (Simons) thought it should have.”

Dolph’s willingness to subsidize the paper beyond its natural revenue limitations probably bred some complacency in the local community over the years; many locals wanted to gripe about his conservative politics and Chamber of Commerce alliances (or the paper’s longtime style of referring to the University of Kansas as “Kansas University”) rather than see the ways he served the city well. Now the blinders must come off.

Which is why I’m going to subscribe to the Journal-World instead of catching it for free wherever I can. The community is only going to get the news organization it supports. So I’m supporting it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…