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The Future's So Bright They've Got To Wear Shades

Or not.

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz points out this American Journalism Review story on fearsome decline in circulation at The Post. When focus groups treat free samples of your product like radioactive waste, it's time rethink your packaging.

Eight or nine Washington, D.C.-area lawyers, government workers and other residents sat around a conference table in an office building. They were strangers, all younger than 45, all had moved to the region within the last five years. None subscribed to the Washington Post.

"An affable session leader from Boston began by asking about their daily routines and news habits. About an hour and 15 minutes later, he opened a cabinet, removed a stack of Posts and dropped them on a conference table. 'What if I told you that you could have a six-month subscription free?' he asked them.

"'In one session after another, I don't think I saw one person who would take it,' says a Post staffer who watched the focus groups with colleagues from behind a one-way glass. The participants picked up various sections--Style, Metro--and stared at them like they were 'Egyptian hieroglyphics.'

"They knew about the Post, of course. How could they not? It's the region's dominant daily and one of the nation's best. They even liked the Post. But they read it online at work. Former subscribers complained unread papers piled up at their homes, making them feel guilty because they hadn't read them."

As Esquire used to say, "Why Is This Man Smiling?"

Why Is This Man Smiling?


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Comments (12)

Last month I cancelled my d... (Below threshold)

Last month I cancelled my daily subscription. I only get Sundays now. I don't miss it.

I read the Washington Post ... (Below threshold)

I read the Washington Post Metro section for entertainment value. I've to find some other city that's worse run than Los Angeles.

When I last subscribed to t... (Below threshold)

When I last subscribed to the Post, several years ago:

I was lucky when it was delivered as many as 4 days out of 7.

When it was delivered, it was almost always after I left for work, and not within the time the Post sets as a standard.

The bills arriived much more regulalry.

Unfortunately, my payments were never credited promptly and I often received a dunning notice about the same time as my cancelled check.

Complaints the the Post? Generally useless, although a couple brought me abusive calls from the distibutor (the SOB sitting on the checks) who wanted to know why I was complaining to the Post instead of calling him (nevermind that he would NEVER return calls).

My small neighborhood had over 70 Post subscribers way back in the days when one of the neighborhood kids delivered and collected. Currently, there may be a dozen daily subscribers and maybe twice that on Sunday.

Why is the Post losing subscribers? It's not just the content--they have treated too many cusomers like shit for too long.

I take the post, and consid... (Below threshold)

I take the post, and consider it imperative to understanding the enemy.

If it weren't for the comics, I would have dropped it years ago.

Brilliant finish with the N... (Below threshold)

Brilliant finish with the Nixon picture --- he's laughing up th....er, wherever he went.

Ohh, Diane's story reminds ... (Below threshold)

Ohh, Diane's story reminds me of an interesting go-round I had once with a newspaper distributor when I lived in Sacramento. It's too off-topic to post here though.


WAPO and TNYT are both crap... (Below threshold)

WAPO and TNYT are both crap, reduced publishings of pure crap. Mind numbing crap for to entertain and grovel to nonsense. Crap.

President Nixon gets satisfaction. I don't about ESQUIRE, however.

(^^)...don't know ... (Below threshold)


...don't know about...

Just to be fair, Dianne, th... (Below threshold)

Just to be fair, Dianne, the distributors are basically independant contractors. I never had a problem with my Post distribution, and found the Post's customer service to be excellent. (These days you can put a hold on your subscription through the web, if you're going to be out of town. I really liked that feature.)

God Bless Richard Nixon...T... (Below threshold)
Zsa Zsa:

God Bless Richard Nixon...The liberals hated him so much! The liberal main stream media still had domain over the news and subscribers ! All of the papers when Watergate was going on were so repetative no one really needed to read or watch the news! Today the liberal media doesn't hold quite as much weight as they use to. Unread newspapers? Irregular delivery? Who cares? You get what you pay for! Does anyone want to disagree? Thanks! Sorry for my speach!

Sweet, sweet it is to see t... (Below threshold)

Sweet, sweet it is to see the dawning realization of looming desolation steal over your arrogant enemy...

I've subscribed to The Post... (Below threshold)

I've subscribed to The Post since I moved back into the area in 1991. I checked out The Washington Times, but I don't subscribe to them for two reasons.

1) I get more (local) information from The Post. In other words, The Times is just too thin.

2) When it comes to opinion, I tend to agree with The Times too much, so I think it's important for me to have a greater exposure to ideas with which I disagree. And to be honest, the opinion pieces are reasonably balanced. The news stories, however, can be horribly skewed.

What the hell happened to "who, what, when, where?" They spend all their time on "why," and cutesy "see what a brilliant writer I am" techniques to impress me with the "reporter."

Give me news, not your opinion on the news, Mr. and Ms. Reporter.






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