Yesterday I submitted a letter to the editor of the Express-News, the only daily newspaper still extant in San Antonio, Texas, the seventh largest city in the United States (population 1,328,984). My submission was received and acknowledged the same day.
The chances that the letter will be printed are slim to none, so I’m posting my criticisms, aspersions and frustrations to a different audience—the city and the nation’s bloggers. If similar situations exist in your cities, let’s hear about them. I also encourage and welcome comments from local folks—current and past subscribers, long-time readers of the Express-News, newcomers to the metropolitan area, etc.
May 26, 2009
To the editor, Express-News:
Your present publication is a shadow of its former self, and I would imagine that the paper’s workplace has changed accordingly. Some of your people have probably agreed to pay cuts, some have voluntarily moved on to greener fields, and others have been dismissed for various reasons, including efforts to reduce operating costs.
The Express-News has shrunk—it has changed in size, shape, format and content. The ratio of width to length has changed—the paper is narrower and longer and its type is smaller. Some of us, your long-time readers who are stubbornly hanging on to their daily hard-copy news source, often resort to using a magnifying glass to read the classifieds—reading glasses aren’t strong enough.
About the only thing that hasn’t shrunk is the cost of the Express-News. My quarterly cost for a 7-day weekly subscription has risen some 25 percent in the past year, with no notice of the increase other than the higher charge shown on the billing notice.
Your readership is probably shrinking also, with a corresponding shrinkage in your subscriptions. I don’t have access to the demographics involved in shrinking readership and subscriptions, but I can make a fair guess as to which groups are bailing out. Many of the bailouts are younger readers who are computer-literate and spend considerable time at their computers reviewing news sources. There are probably many others, of all ages, who are dissatisfied with the cost of the paper and its physical changes, and have opted to get their daily news from television.
Many of us older subscribers are computer illiterates—we have retained our subscriptions through the many changes to the paper, but you may be assured that more cancellations are in the offing. Reading your paper has become a chore for us, and more and more our attention is directed to television news, including local, national and cable news sources.
This letter is not meant to be informative or to be a diatribe, and any criticism is meant to be constructive. I’m sure you are well aware of everything I’ve discussed. I submit this letter only to make my feelings a matter of record while I still have, as a subscriber, the inherent right to comment, whether to compliment or to criticize.
NOTE TO ANY VIEWERS THIS POSTING MAY ATTRACT:
I’ll get back to you later with more details, specifically on whether my letter was printed, and if printed, whether as-submitted or edited.