I am trying to cancel my subscription to the Springfield News-Leader.
I have taken this paper since I moved the Springfield area three years ago. I was hopeful that I could get a local newspaper that would not irritate the hell out of me as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did with its slanted news coverage.
I enjoyed it for a while, but recently Gannett has cheesed me off.
For starters, they spruced up the Internet site a little bit and added 20% monthly to my subscription for access to it (it’s mandatory, natch). So now it’s $20 a month. And the Web site has the additional benefit of not having any more content than the regular paper, but I can comment, I think. I don’t visit the Web site, and when I do, it’s to look for events I’ve seen in the calendar section. Which, of course, is separate from the calendar app, you see: If you search for events by day on the Web site, it’s not what was in the paper; to find those, you have to browse articles until you find the complete article from Thursday’s paper and read through that.
That pushes the annual subscription price for the Springfield News-Leader over the annual subscription for the Wall Street Journal, by the way.
The content has been slimming ever since I got here, too; the paper is now down to like 20 pages on Mondays, 10 news, 4 sports, 1 opinion, 1 business, 1 classified, and 3 comics and lifestyles. Most of that content is AP or Gannett content, with the remainder of the local news (that which is not Gannett material, I mean–they rely on Gannett people for local news, but that’s probably an accounting thing) is written by kids fresh out of journalism school who are in the Springfield area for a year until they get a better job elsewhere, and then it’s another 22-year-old pounding the pavement.
Did I say “pounding the pavement”? I meant “putting allegations about Republican candidates above the fold on page one”. This election, we’ve had a great fill of Todd Akin loves rapists more than women stories. We had an allegation about the Republican candidate for Secretary of State whose provenance and only “investigation” was quoting the opponent of that Republican candidate. I mean, by the Secretary of State Elect and incoming Chief Ghostwriter for the Democratic Party. Today’s above the fold story: Blunt Caught in Akin Storm, an “analysis” piece about how a Republican tried to help another Republican get elected. Mostly, though, it’s a continuing effort to try to tie Roy Blunt to Todd Akin’s ill-advised and widely misconstrued turn of phrase “legitimate rape.”
Because nothing else happened in the city of Springfield or Southwest Missouri all weekend.
So I’m trying to cancel my subscription. They don’t make it easy, you know. You can’t stop it on the Internet; you can only delay it for your vacation. I’ve called and got the phone tree, and the wait to cancel my subscription is 27 to 41 minutes. The machine offered me the chance to call back, and I’m waiting for its call now.
In some portion of my mind, I’m hoping this does not work so I can write them a letter for them to bollix my cancellation and I’ll get to dispute the ongoing charges with my credit card company. I have grown that incensed, not just because the newspaper is behaving like a newspaper, but because the customer service for the newspaper is so lacking.
A couple months ago, one of the stock advisors in Forbes magazine recommended that people buy Gannett stock because it owns a lot of small local newspapers and it “gets” that market. No, Gannett does not. Not at all.
So where will I get my local news? I already carry a subscription to another local weekly, the Republic Monitor. I pick up the bimonthly Community Free Press which has a better news organization than most free pickups. I listen to the radio in the car and will catch some news stories that way. Maybe I’ll start hitting the Web sites of the television stations and the radio stations in the area. Maybe I’ll scan the headlines on the News-Leader‘s Web site.
I don’t know how much down I’ll be in the local news consumption area, but it won’t be as much as one would expect. And I won’t be wasting $250 a year on it.