Another Wednesday passes and the driveway is bare; I once again remember that there will be no Citizen delivered. I know that the publication is online and that the decision to go paperless was one made of financial necessity but I do miss the delivery.
The problem with a local paper going exclusively online is that the email notices that are received are mixed together with school notices, government meeting notices, and requests for survey responses from recent airline flights or hotel stays. And there are advertisements from every place that I’ve ever shopped and even more from shops only viewed. There are offers to make me smarter, stronger, more desirable, better prepared for retirement, and ways to generally make me a happier person. In short, the notice to view the online version of the Citizen is just one more note in an attention seeking symphony of hawking.
When the paper was delivered, that was a real, tangible break from the noise of the internet. It was a reason to stop, sit, and read about local news and hear from neighbors as they provided their opinions in an open forum. Indeed, I took advantage of this forum many times over the last decade and a half that I’ve lived here and knowing that such thoughts would be captured with ink and paper provided some gravitas and forced thoughtful and respectful discourse, something in short supply on the web.
For those who received the paper and just dropped it in the bin, they are simply people who do not place a premium on local news and will not register for online notices.
For those who did at least glance at the news because it was delivered to them, some percentage will sign up for online notice but I fear that the number will be low and even that small amount of local information received by a cursory view if the printed version will be lost.
The end result is yet one more loss of things that made Peachtree City and Fayetteville special places as we meld into the sameness supported by electronic platforms. And I seriously doubt that local advertisers are benefiting from the move to paperless.
What will your kids show their kids as a remembrance of their winning touchdown or heroic deed or even the public thoughts recorded at the passing of a family member? With no clipping to read (maybe a discovery made long after the event is forgotten), they will be left to searching archives – assuming they know what the search hopes to find and as long as those in power allow such history to be saved.
I for one would happily pay to continue to receive a quality weekly publication as was the Citizen. I wonder if there are enough like me willing to support such an endeavor. It feels like I’m tilting at windmills but then again there are a lot of them being built these days!
Peachtree City, Ga.
[The editor replies: Me, too, Alan. My only quibble with your requiem for print is this statement: “And I seriously doubt that local advertisers are benefiting from the move to paperless.” That’s the bulk of the problem, Alan — Local advertisers are indeed using their limited advertising dollars on Google Adwords, FaceBook ads and other digital means of bringing customers into their establishments. I imagine they would not do that if something else would work better for them.
That is a business decision and manifestly their right. But dollars spent on Google were dollars not spent with print ads in the local paper. I said in my online letter announcing the end of print editions: They just were no longer buying enough of what we were selling to keep the print product sustainable. High overhead is now reduced considerably by publishing online. We think we can continue to bring news and opinion on local issues to many tens of thousands of local readers. I hope you can join us in that effort.]