Readers’ Views on the Newspaper Industry
Last Chance to Enter Our Essay Contest
In Case You Missed It
Last week I wrote about the tumult in the newspaper industry, specifically the battle that’s been raging between the Boston Globe’s Newspaper Guild union and the New York Times company’s management. Many of you wrote to me with insightful comments, a sampling of which appears below. Don’t forget that you can always write to us via email or on our blog, http://www.iconoclast-investor.com. Thanks to everyone for writing in!
As a 20-plus year subscriber to the Cabot Market Letter and a former reporter, editor and owner of small daily newspapers, I feel compelled to offer a much different view of the present state of the newspaper industry. The newspaper unions, including the guild, via ridiculous work rules have saddled newspapers with unnecessary expenses for decades. Union members benefited handsomely from their contracts and now those very contracts have, in large measure, brought about the rapid decline and failure of many daily newspapers.
Yes, ad revenue has fallen off dramatically and the industry as a whole was quite late in embracing the Internet. However, it is interesting to note that many small dailies and weeklies have continued to post operating profits albeit not at the level enjoyed in past decades. Very few small dailies and weeklies are unionized and their reporters and editors do not feel it beneath them to cover mundane community events. Most reporters and editors at daily newspapers, particularly the larger ones like the Globe, shun such reporting as shallow and unsophisticated. Each wants to be another Woodward or Bernstein.
Many reporters and editors at larger newspapers actually believe they cannot get involved personally in their communities because it would be a conflict of interest. Some news departments actually have written policies forbidding community involvement by newsroom employees. On the other hand, editors and reporters at good small dailies and weeklies are very much involved in their local communities and their reporting conveys that important closeness. Further, reporters at smaller papers often write five to 10 stories every working day while their union brethren at larger papers are hard pressed to produce one story per day.
Newsroom employees at smaller papers count their success in the number of subscribers while those at larger papers remain obsessed with press club awards and Pulitzer Prizes. Most large dailies have each story edited at least twice by different editors. That way each editor can blame the other(s) for any errors. At my newspapers each story was edited once and the reporter’s initials were printed at the end of each story followed by the editor’s initials. Those people took pride in their craft and liked their initials displayed for all readers to see. You will never see that practice at larger newspapers where archaic work rules continue to suppress individual initiative.
As to your view regarding depreciation and amortization, I am sure the New York Times Company shareholders are keenly concerned about these accounting practices. Consider the return the company could have gotten on the $1 billion they foolishly paid for the Globe in better times. In summary, I do not feel sorry for the Guild workers, or for that matter any other union employee at the Globe. They gorged at that table for a very long time and now they will starve at that same table in the not too distant future. No newspaper can survive, much less prosper, with a backward-thinking unionized workforce when they have to compete with non-union forward-thinking web employees who are allowed to prosper sans union rules.
San Diego, California
Many newspapers are in trouble because of the progress of the electronic age. You can get most news items, even newspaper content on the Internet. I am one that does not think this kind of progress is good for us. The Internet has caused many problems we did not have before. Progress is not always good.
In reference to your Boston Globe article. It is not my aim to be rude however, permit me to say the way the news print media focuses on certain subjects–reporting only that which they will use to make their point–borders on unfair and biased reporting. Example, the absolute refusal of the print media to print President Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Also, the absence of written historical reports concerning the president’s location and activities during his eight or nine year stay in Indonesia. And I only use Obama as one of the most flagrant one-sided abuses of the print media. (I happened to vote for him and support most of what he is proposing.) Another example might be the contribution of news media to the demise of the nuclear power industry in the U.S.–during a 20-year period when all of Europe and China have been building this ecologically sound energy industry.
So you who write and print newspapers, magazines, etc., may be somewhat deserving of the closeout of entire news group systems such as the Boston Globe–at least from a fairness in reporting standpoint. This is one major opinion (major = many) of those living in the Midwest U.S.
I do not countenance any man or woman losing their job. It is a crushing blow and an indictment against our free market economy, which should be able, with some government help, to provide jobs for all those willing to work. Having witnessed, via my aviation career, the ups and downs of aviation employment cycles–I am sympathetic with all workers and well-led unions. But a case can be made which says the reporters and editors’ one-sided presentation of the news–has contributed to the lack of readership and thus the company’s downfall. Perhaps there is a lesson in all this. Perhaps not. It is for the reader to decide based on unbiased facts reported.
Park Hill, Oklahoma
Now, if only the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and rags owned by Gannett would just go away and we could get back true and accurate reporting “What a Wonderful World it Would Be!”
Sun City West, Arizona
Unions are causing the problems in this nation today. They have controlled the “forced benefits” for decades and now are surprised as these companies begin their financial demise. Everyone is going to have to cut back on everything. The unions are being rewarded by the Obama administration for his election success.
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There’s only one week left to enter our essay contest, so I’m reprinting the information you need to enter in case you missed it the first time or if you’re a new subscriber. I’d also like to thank everyone who has already sent in their essay–we’ve received some great ones already and I know it’s going to be tough to choose the best three!
We recently received a very interesting proposal from a Cabot Wealth Advisory reader who suggested an essay contest with a subscription to a Cabot newsletter as the prize for the best entry.
We have never done such a contest, but the reader had obviously thought through the details, and made a very persuasive case. I thought you’d enjoy reading excerpts of the proposal:
“I enjoy receiving the Cabot Wealth Advisory very much. Thank you for sharing your considerable knowledge; our country needs this, especially in light of the fear and panic generated by the current economic events.
“My question to you is: would you consider opening up a few spots in one of your more detailed, subscription-based advisories to a few unfortunates who have lost their nest egg due to predatory lending, or unscrupulous practices by an employer? I won’t even mention Mr. Ponzi-Pilferer by name. You know of what I speak, I am sure.
“Perhaps an essay contest on How I Lost My Retirement and What I Would Do if I Had Another Chance? There are many who have lost their nest eggs, due to no fault of their own, other than perhaps trusting the wrong people / company, or having too much faith in the “American Dream.” All who care about investing in their financial security could benefit from your knowledge and insight.
As the prize, “perhaps a few six-month subscriptions, or three-month? It would be a very good thing to give knowledge, and a chance for at least a few determined souls to learn enough to possibly recover from a hard lesson and a badly dealt hand. Not to mention some positive marketing karma! (I am sure the world of finance does not operate on karma, but I am an optimist, and it never hurts to ask!)
“Thank you for reading this, thank you for providing the possibility of success.”
First off, we love competitions. Second, we like the idea of asking Cabot Wealth Advisory readers to share their stories and we think others will enjoy reading them. And third, the entries will give us an opportunity to get to know you better, dear reader. Lastly, the winner will have a chance to get back into the market with our best advice because the prize is a FREE one-year subscription to a Cabot newsletter!
Sounds like it will be fun!
Here are the details (we made only slight adjustments to L.P.’s idea):
Cabot Essay Contest Rules
Topic: “How I Lost Money in the Bear Market and What I Would do if I had Another Chance.”
* Entries: Maximum 1,000 words
* One entry per email address
* To enter: Send entries via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
* The winner will receive a one-year free subscription to your choice of these Cabot newsletters:
Cabot Market Letter
Cabot Top Ten Report
Cabot China & Emerging Markets Report
Cabot Green Investor
Cabot Benjamin Graham Value Letter
Cabot Stock of the Month Report
* Contest deadline: June 30, 2009
* Winners will be announced on July 12, 2009
* The top three essays will be selected by a panel of Cabot editors, and readers will vote on the winner.
* We may choose to reprint any entries in Cabot Wealth Advisory, but will keep names confidential.
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In case you didn’t get a chance to read all the issues of Cabot Wealth Advisory this week and want to catch up on any investing and stock tips you might have missed, I have links below to each issue.
Cabot Wealth Advisory 6/15/09 – The True Story of the Pig War
On Monday, Timothy Lutts wrote about the true story of the pig war, which began 150 years ago Monday. Tim used the story to conclude that history happens and turned that conclusion on our modern world to find a stock that’s part of the changing world we live in. Featured stock: Ctrip.com (CTRP).
Cabot Wealth Advisory 6/18/09 – How to Profit from Green Lifestyle Trends
On Thursday, Brendan Coffey wrote about genetically modified foods, how they can help … and hurt. Brendan also wrote about how to profit from Green lifestyle trends, like investing in Whole Foods during the organic food craze. Brendan finished by writing about two Green stocks: one that’s already taken off and another that has great potential. Featured stocks: Whole Foods Market (WFMI), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) and United Natural Foods (UNFI).
Until next time,
Editor of Cabot Wealth Advisory
Editor’s Note: Cabot China & Emerging Markets Report was recently named the top-performing newsletter for the past five years on a risk-adjusted basis by Hulbert Financial Digest. The Report gained 22.2% for the five years ending May 31, 2009, trumping the -1.3% return for the Dow during that time. And Cabot China & Emerging Markets Report Editor Paul Goodwin has issued a BUY signal! He’s taking advantage of the market’s rebound and snapping up some high-potential stocks. Don’t let this opportunity in the emerging markets pass you by.