Saturday, February 11, 2006

Getting Screwed by the Dallas Morning News

Odessa suddenly got a little bit smaller and more isolated for me today.

One of my great pleasures in life is the morning paper delivered to my door. I realize that with the internet, the home-delivered newspaper is something of an anachronism. I read more of the Boston Globe everyday online than I do of my Dallas Morning News, which, in order to get here early in the morning, comes in the earliest edition that misses any news or sports after the early evening. Nonetheless, despite the fact that I read four newspapers online every day (add the Times, South African Mail & Guardian and Washington Post to the Globe, I value getting the Morning News, which is why I reacted with dismay this morning when there was a letter inserted in my paper announcing that the DMN is ceasing daily delivery to this part of West Texas. They asserted that the cost of delivery, including the cost of gas, is a main reason. To me, it still seems stupid to screw loyal customers. "You do not matter enough to us. You are not worth it." That's what they are saying to us, and it strikes me as tremendously shortsighted -- especially when they have not even atempted to raise their subscription rates, and especially when it is advertsing, and not subscriptions or news stand sales that makes up the bulk of a paper's revenues.

The local paper, the Odessa American is a perfectly fine local newspaper and serves the area well -- it surely helps that Midland also has a daily newspaper and so there is competition. But the OA is not an urban newspaper, does not have a national editorial reputation, does not have first-rate arts and books coverage. I'll probably subscribe now, but I am annoyed and am feeling somewhat claustrophobic here in Odessa, really for the first time since arriving here in January 2004.

If anyone from the Dallas Morning News ends up seeing this, could you explain the rationale for screwing loyal readers? When gas prices drop (as has been happening steadily for the last few weeks), will you still maintain this shortsighted policy? And can you really purport to be a national-caliber newspaper when you cut back on your efforts to be a regional newspaper?

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