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arcturus

GR Press hits new low

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Yeah, I don't think Troy really believes the Moon Conspiracy (I could be wrong), but it's definitely not an article worthy of being published or brought up. Certainly makes me wonder about what the editors who let this by are thinking.

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Yeah, I don't think Troy really believes the Moon Conspiracy (I could be wrong), but it's definitely not an article worthy of being published or brought up. Certainly makes me wonder about what the editors who let this by are thinking.

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How do you cover forty-year-old news? Troy wasn't around then; presumably he went digging and found those interesting (to him) conspiracy theories.

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Another reason why I will not shed one tear when that rag goes belly up.

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Yeah, I saw that on Mlive. I hope that Mike Lloyd's retirement has not signalled open season on hard news in the Press. I have no confidence that the Advance (Newhouse) people have any idea in heck as to how to run a newspaper in hard times. Ironically, papers like the Press and the Ann Arbor News (soon to go the way of the Dodo) were money machines in the past, and subsidized the high living of New York editors at the Conde Nast chain (Vanity Fair, Vogue, etc.) No more.

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If it makes anyone feel any better, the Press didn't put the article in print. As far as I know, this was only on MLive.

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If it makes anyone feel any better, the Press didn't put the article in print. As far as I know, this was only on MLive.

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Quote of the week:

"...city people don't know a lot about wakeboarding."

And most ironic juxtaposition, headline/topic department:

Wake! Wake! Don't Tell Me!

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Latest bad news for print journalism in West Michigan. Big layoffs at the GR Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette, with the latter's print plant closing and moving to GR. At least 15 layoffs in the editorial department of the Press. The bleeding continues, with no end in sight.

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just thinking out loud... with the smallest papers being hurt most (i imagine) is it possible that all of the smaller city papers (kalamazoo, holland, muskegon, etc...) bow out to GR Press making the GRP a bigger/regional paper?

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just thinking out loud... with the smallest papers being hurt most (i imagine) is it possible that all of the smaller city papers (kalamazoo, holland, muskegon, etc...) bow out to GR Press making the GRP a bigger/regional paper?

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On my way to looking for something else, I stumbled across this. Grand Haven Tribune facebook page.

How’s the Tribune Doing?

Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 2:10pm

With all the doom and gloom going on these days in the newspaper industry, rarely does a day go by when I am not asked, “How is the Tribune doing?” To which I answer, “Fine.”

After that, the discussion changes to how much they love the newspaper — which I truly appreciate hearing — or why the bigger papers are in such trouble. Well, if I could solve that problem for larger newspapers, I certainly would not be in Grand Haven. I would be on a nice sandy beach, touting my consultative knowledge to those who would pay to hear me.

And even though I am still at my desk in Grand Haven, here is my two cents about the whole situation.

If you look closely, newspapers having the most financial troubles are located in larger communities and many are located in industrial areas. Larger communities are quite news-fragmented these days. National news is easier to get via the Web and most of these newspapers do a horrible job at covering the local news that is important to people.

In addition, many of those newspapers have taken on a tremendous amount of debt for new facilities, equipment and so forth in the last 10 years. Plus, those newspapers are overstaffed.

Combine those factors with an economy that has tanked and it’s no wonder they are having trouble staying afloat.

The three biggest expenses involved in producing a newspaper are labor, insurance and newsprint. Since 2001, those three categories have seen double-digit increases as revenue streams for newspapers have shrunk as our economy began to slide and subsequently crash.

It’s not the subscription rates that keep newspapers alive, it’s the advertising revenues. Subscriptions can actually cost newspapers money in the long run. If the Tribune had no advertising to support the newspaper, subscription rates would be hundreds of times more than you currently pay for delivery of the Tribune. The advertising we sell determines the amount of pages we can publish each day for readers. And, obviously, the Tribune has felt the effects, too; as we publish fewer pages than we published a year ago.

While the Internet is a much different model, lack of advertising can also affect the content.

Newspapers are one of the first industries to feel the effects of an oncoming recession and one of the last to recover. And in the late 1990s, we had it good, which made us lazy.

I am convinced newspaper executives should have seen this coming, but chose to ignore the signs of hard economic times ahead. Then, the newspaper industry resisted the Internet because executives saw it as a huge investment, with smaller profits than we were used to achieving. Then, all of a sudden, we awoke to find ourselves playing catch-up on the Web.

At smaller newspapers, we’re accustomed to wearing many different hats. We don’t have assistants to the editorial page editor, regional editors or any sub-management positions. We do it all ourselves on a daily basis.

Plus, our focus on news is more about our own backyards — not those of other states or countries. We rely on The Associated Press to provide us with the additional news and pictures of events outside of our market.

Our job is local, intensely local — as compared to larger newspapers.

Is the Internet killing newspapers? Nope. In the long run, the Internet will enhance the industry — but remember, newspapers are slow to change. We’ve been doing the same thing each day for the last 400 years.

And, if you look closely at the Internet, you’ll notice on non-news sites that their “news” is aggregated from newspapers! And in some cases, sites like Google and Yahoo have tried to secure “partnerships” with — once again — newspapers!

I am far from being an Internet naysayer. On the contrary, I remember sitting in a former Tribune publisher’s office and declaring this new thing called the Internet was going to be big — and big for newspapers. That was around 1995; and by 1998, the Tribune had a Web site up and running, complete with video from the windstorm that tore through this area in May of that year.

I still believe newspapers will survive this economic downturn. In all honesty, it will make our industry leaner and meaner because we will learn from what we are all experiencing these days.

It is a sad thing when a newspaper shuts down because a community loses a trusted friend. I’ve seen a community newspaper die and what happens to that community after the last issue is published. All of a sudden, people do realize the contributions the local newspaper made.

Let’s face it, radio is for entertainment. Rarely can you find a station that truly has the community in mind as they prepare a series about issues in the community or take a stance on issues.

Television is not much better. Their focus is on ratings and promoting their on-air personalities. Many television stations provide great weather reports and acceptable snippets of the top stories for the day. In most cases, if you missed it at 11 p.m., it will repeat again and again throughout the next day.

The local newspaper does much more. It is the mirror of the community it serves. Where else can you get the flavor of a community by reading a week’s worth of newspapers?

Newspaper reporters keep our community in check. Reporters exposed Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal. They also exposed Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit and how Kilpatrick spent millions of taxpayer dollars to silence whistleblowers. And consider those AIG bonus payouts to top executives. Stop and think what our lives would be like if we were forced to search the Web for bloggers who think they know what reporting is all about.

And right here I will go on record and predict a precedent-setting lawsuit that changes the face of the Internet because of a blogger who thought he or she was a reporter — and it will happen within the next five years.

As a third-generation newspaper publisher, I will admit I am biased about our industry. But I also like to think I am able to see the forest for the trees, and the time has come for newspapers to learn to change more quickly with the demands of readers. We need to constantly ask readers what they want from a local newspaper and we need to listen to their suggestions.

Our industry also needs to survive on smaller profits and understand that, while our delivery methods will change from time to time, our core mission is to be the mirror of the communities we serve. We must be the watchdog for those communities.

If we continue to do our jobs properly, then in another 20 years when someone asks the current Tribune publisher, “How is the Tribune doing?” — that person will answer, “Just fine.”

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As a third-generation newspaper publisher, I will admit I am biased about our industry.

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Not to pile on, but a week or so ago they had a story about an upcoming appearance by David Sadaris. Included in the story was a pre-sale code for tickets that THE SPONSORS sent via email to THEIR CUSTOMERS just hours prior to publication in the newspaper. Fairly low rent move on the part of the fishwrap. If this weren't such a clubby town there would have been a copyright infringement suit filed before the ink dried.

One more example of commerce trumping journalistic ethics.

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Not to pile on, but a week or so ago they had a story about an upcoming appearance by David Sadaris. Included in the story was a pre-sale code for tickets that THE SPONSORS sent via email to THEIR CUSTOMERS just hours prior to publication in the newspaper. Fairly low rent move on the part of the fishwrap. If this weren't such a clubby town there would have been a copyright infringement suit filed before the ink dried.

One more example of commerce trumping journalistic ethics.

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A favor: help me out with this. Gonzo has been offering ticket sale codes on Facebook and his GRPress blogs for several weeks. Not understanding how this would be a copyright violation.

(The Sedaris tix are overpriced. I'll stick with the radio.)

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The email was a transmission from West Michigan Entertainment (as I understand it, a private business entertainment promotion company) to their clients, for their clients, for their events. While I couldn't find a "circle c" copyright symbol on the email, I don't believe that is an absolute requirement for republished information to be considered an infringement. Not entirely different than if the GR Press were to lift posts from this website and present them for publication that in turn has copyright protection. Not altogether legal, either from a public website or a private email announcement, and certainly borderline ethically suspect.

Just sayin' for a business that seems to whine a lot about having their content subverted it's a nasty way to run your own shop...

(BTW - I'll gladly defer to any IP experts out there)

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Not to pile on, but a week or so ago they had a story about an upcoming appearance by David Sadaris. Included in the story was a pre-sale code for tickets that THE SPONSORS sent via email to THEIR CUSTOMERS just hours prior to publication in the newspaper. Fairly low rent move on the part of the fishwrap. If this weren't such a clubby town there would have been a copyright infringement suit filed before the ink dried.

One more example of commerce trumping journalistic ethics.

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Yeah, I fail to see the legal problems with this. I'm guessing the sponsor WANTED the sale code to go out there as part of a promotion. Event coverage is a lot more promotional than hard-hitting journalism.

The Grand Haven guy raises a point that I think has been made here before: sites like UrbanPlanet wouldn't even exist (or would have far fewer topics and replies) without newspaper articles to link to. 90% of almost every discussion on here starts off from a Grand Rapids Press article.

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According the the MLive article, the pre-sale was "announced" by SMG and Schuler Books, so they must have been the sources of their information. I'm really not sure what that means. Who did they intend to be the recipients of their announcement? The general public?

There may have been some acts in bad faith here, but either way I don't see how it works as a copyright violation.

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Maybe I'm not being clear. It appeared to me the email was sent to previous customers a few days prior to the tickets being generally available to the public. A pre-sale. "Thanks for your buisness, here's a code that will allow you to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public" (so to speak)

Hours later the GR Press publishes the code needed to purchase tickets before the tickets are scheduled to be sold to the general public.

If the promoter was the one who offered the code information to the newspaper, then the promoter was wrong to publicize the email as an "Exclusive Pre-Sale Opportunity"

If the newspaper published the code via a tip or other methods, then they rendered the value of the promoters exclusivity to its customers useless. If that's the case, the code information should have been embargoed. (happens all the time). The pre-sale was scheduled for 1/4/10 @ 10:00am through 1/8/10 @ 10:00am. The newspaper published the code on 1/5/10

BTW - here's the text of the email: (yeah, yeah, I'm publishing a cut 'n paste... I get it)

The sardonic wit and incisive social criticism Sedaris wields in his bestsellers When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, as well as in his NPR contributions, have helped him become one of America's preeminent modern humorists.

Join David Sedaris at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids at 7:00 pm on Sunday, April 18, for an evening of engaging recollections and readings. Tickets start at $30, and, even though they don't go on sale to the general public until Friday, you can buy yours now!

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Yeah, I fail to see the legal problems with this. I'm guessing the sponsor WANTED the sale code to go out there as part of a promotion. Event coverage is a lot more promotional than hard-hitting journalism.

The Grand Haven guy raises a point that I think has been made here before: sites like UrbanPlanet wouldn't even exist (or would have far fewer topics and replies) without newspaper articles to link to. 90% of almost every discussion on here starts off from a Grand Rapids Press article.

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