Statesman Struggles To Survive

Caught in a techie society amid economic tumult, the Daily Paper is struggling to find its place in today’s society while struggling for survival.

First to go was the cost of a new printing press (Nampa will print the Statesman), now they are cutting back on staff, including six in the newsroom. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, we would love to see the Statesman be a father (grandfather?) figure and forget about emphasis on websites, video, etc. An authoritative public voice with an institutional memory and historical record is essential to a community. It also serves as a watchdog (GUARDIAN?) over government excess and mismanagement.

Evidence of the shift in “content” is glaringly apparent in Wednesday’s edition. Many inches of space are devoted to stories about WOLVES, BEAR, FROGS, a swimming LION,and GROUSE…it looked like the freakin Animal Planet!

Meanwhile governments continue to “nationalize” banks, insurance companies, ski resorts, and real estate developments, providing dismal news and no relief for the media giants.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Alas. Web advertising sites such as have taken a huge chunk out of their revenue. But only because the Statesman itself failed to adopt to the new technology properly.

    Compare a visit to craigslist to a visit to the Statesman. Like most traditional media attempting to adopt, their site is bloated with overdesign. It takes forever to load, is full of third party ads and flash. I think people prefer simple sites like craigslist which load immediately, and are simple and to the point.

    I just checked, and it took 32+ seconds to load the front page on a broadband connection. It had to load 98 seperate objects (images, flash, scripts etc) from its own server, in addition to several other third party sites, related to advertising, statistics and stuff.

    Which is pretty typical of a traditional media’s stab at a website, and why I avoid them. Thirty seconds is a long time to wait for a computer to do something.

  2. I come from a state where the local paper was about dead. The problem was they stopped reporting local news, started simply printing AP wire stories, and were seen to be totally in bed with the local democrat party aparatus, even to the point of only printing pro dem letters (about 8 to 1) right before elections. This can be a dangerous time for the Statesman. They should spend resources where they have expertise and where the national news does not apply. Deeply cover local and state news and stay as unbiased as possible.

  3. Last one out, turn off the lights.
    Sep 17, 2008, 10:44 pm

    A few years ago, the Statesman was one of the few papers in the country whose subscriptions and readership were still on the increase to the tune of about one percent per year. The soft under belly of that statistic was the fact that the valley population was increasing at about 8 to 10 percent per year. Even then, it was clear that if the flood tide of immigrants ever stopped, like it did a couple of years ago, the paper was hosed. On that shaky foundation, the Statesman spent a bundle to expand their building.

    At about the same time, one of the paper’s ongoing surveys indicated that the average reader was in their late 50s, and getting older. With full knowledge that in order to read the paper, the bulk of their subscribers need the type to be as big and bold as reasonably possible, the Statesman downsized the paper and went to a smaller, tighter typeface. Screw you, faithful reader.

    It was also clear that the Internet was coming, and as razzbar points out, loading speeds of web pages is critical. The Statesman publisher and editorial board was informed as much, and that Idaho has one of the lowest percentages of high speed connectivity in the nation, and they launched the current slow loader anyway.

    I could go on, and on.

    Like the dinosaur, the Statesman may be on its way to extinction. Unlike the Statesman, the dinosaur doesn’t appear to have been quite so intent on hastening its own demise.

  4. Michael Tomlin has a nice post on the newspaper business on the IBR site. I think that they might be better off just dropping all coverage of national and international news. They could put out a top-notch local/state issue and bundle it with a USA Today or some similar national paper. I don’t know where else to turn for substantive local and state news. Certainly the tv stations don’t fit the bill. And yes, the web site is pretty slow and complicated. But the tv sites are worse. And with less content.

  5. The reporting staff of both papers in the valley is way too thin. Not enough people with way too much going on to cover in any depth.

    Local news and what is really going on both good and bad need to get out to the public.

    The last aspect is the reporters can’t report the ugly stuff or they face getting cut off by the hired “talking heads” none of us voted into office. The people we voted into office have these “hired guns” to do their talking. The voting public continues to put up with this crap.

    Bottom line is the demise of the press and investigative reporting does not serve the public interest.

  6. I subscribe to the Statesman, Valley Times (a weekly) and Idaho Business Review, also a weekly, and no longer published in Idaho.

    Between the Valley Times and the Business Review there is a ton more information about local and state issues. The hard part is finding the time to read it all, even as a retired person.

    One thing I dislike about the Statesman online edition is that readers comments are not reviewed for content and many are not even vaguely relevant to the story. Many are vulgar and obnoxious.

  7. Have you ever been to a national site like the Washington Posts or LA Times…the comments there are seldom remotely associated with the topic.

    I agree with the poster who advises on major local news emphasis…

  8. Remember the days when news was a public service and not a byproduct of the advertising revenue stream.
    Printing pro-Dem news obviously isn’t killing the Statesman. There is none.

  9. Clippityclop
    Sep 18, 2008, 4:59 pm

    If the Statesman were to focus on in-depth local news with an emphasis on quality, unbiased investigative reporting, I would renew my subscription. I suspect many others feel the same. As it is, quality reporting is lacking with an obvious slant.

  10. “Printing pro-Dem news obviously isn’t killing the Statesman. There is none.”

    Every letter to the editor today was a Palin hit piece…all of them.

  11. Clippityclop, I agree with your requirements for renewing your subscription. I would even pay for an online subscription for such a publication, provided helicopters did not hover over the story I’m trying to read. Perhaps they could continue a free online version and offer a premium version for paid subscribers.

    As for pro-Democratic pieces, that tickles me. Palin hit pieces? Seem to be plenty coming from the GOP as well. Lipstick indeed.

  12. I’m happy to hear that our local newspaper (as in print media) is having a difficult time surviving. The various organizations that support newspapers (print media) may one day realize that “blogs” like the Guardian and others are indeed news agencies much like their beloved tree eating print publications. These same agencies will finally have to award non-print entities as much credibility as in-print publications.

  13. Palin hit letters? How many years did we have to suffer from the blame Clinton for everything letters? Wasn’t the Idaho Statesman the local paper that endorsed Bill Sali in the last election? Got a problem with that?
    It so interesting how the most vicious, hypocritical, manipulative political party in years, has become the new “sensitive to everything we stand for” party. Is it because now the Republicans are the new Feminists? Is it OK to burn my bra now? Can I call Republicans “feminazis”? Or does that hurt gender sensitive R feelings?
    Give me a break. The reason Palin is the brunt of the nations jokes and gets the hits is because she is so funny and….pathetic.

  14. Tom Anderson
    Sep 20, 2008, 5:00 pm

    I would like to see the Statesman die because:

    They are able to cover nonsense stories with incredible depth, but, the important stories that effect our lives are glossed over in a paragraph or two, with little detail, or background information.

  15. If everything old is new again, it may be time for newsapapers to seriously re-read some papers from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s — if they haven’t all been thrown out by libraries and historical societies. Those papers packed a lot of information and advertising into relatively few pages, which saved a lot of printing money. They managed to have relatively large reporting staffs (partially because the pay was abismal) and maintained something like a 60-40 ratio of advertising to news.

    Along came the modern corporate publishers and the old-style paper was considered boring, white space was the new news, and layout was king. (Also some photographers thought that pictures should be bigger.) Along the way, column rules were axed and the space between columns widened, typesizes got bigger and stories got shorter. Won’t even go into the trend that started putting feature stories on the front page with little of no news value. Soon there was not only less and less space for news but reporters were encouraged to stay in the office rather than roaming the city reporting news events first hand.

    The good news is that research shows that people still look for news from traditional news outlets (wire services, newspapers, television stations), even when going online. Local TV and newspaper Web sites are also where people head first for breaking news.

    A smart newspaper could build on this, drawing from the past for economies of space, building a strong local newsgathering staff, and publishing hard-hitting local news stories, some good interview features, gathering club/organizational news and reporting on sports and business — not because it is a public service but because it sells newspapers. And, if the business sells newsapers, it can sell advertising and make money. And that’s what it is all about.

  16. bert farber
    Sep 21, 2008, 2:54 pm

    Dear Tom Anderson:
    I think it’s sad you want the Statesman to die. They’re not as bad as you say. They got a Pulitzer nomination and they publish real good pitchers. I can’t imagine Boise without a local hometown newspaper.
    Please reconsider your death wish.
    Very Truly Yours,
    Bert Farber

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