David Carr has a funny yet tragic column today summing up the penny-pinching can’t-see-past-their-noses problem with newspapers today.
About a month ago, The Star Tribune in Minneapolis let it be known that, as a cost-cutting effort, free copies of the newspaper would no longer be broadly available around the newsroom.
Instead, the staff was offered an electronic edition of the paper — “an exact digital reproduction of the printed version,” no less — that they could access online. Those who insisted on seeing the fruits of the their labors in its physical form were told that they could purchase copies for 25 cents, half the retail cost, from boxes around the office….
Last Monday, the going got weirder. Star Tribune reporters who came to work and booted up were greeted by the following message from Steve Alexander, senior vice president for circulation, who had been spending time researching the program’s introduction:
“During the first week that the additional on-site racks were in service, 43 percent of the Star Tribunes removed from those racks were not paid for. For the second week the rate was 41 percent. This is called ‘pilferage’ in our business; but put more plainly, it is theft, pure and simple.”
These are the folks who bought Knight Ridder. Good luck.