Economy

Will Local Paper Go Paperless?

Word on the street says the Idaho Statesman is about to fold and not in a good way.

A GUARDIAN reader tells us they talked to a retailer who claimed to have a letter notifying them the legacy newspaper would soon cease delivering papers to the store. The reader took that to mean the paper was ceasing to publish. Whether true or not, the end is clearly near.

Both Salt Lake papers–Deseret News and Tribune–have gone digital except for a weekly weekend edition. The Statesman has been struggling for years. First they went through a rapid succession of owners, then abandoned their printing press. The Idaho Press printed it for a while, but then geared up and started covering Boise news. That forced the Statesman to find a printer in Twin Falls. Meanwhile owner McClatchy went bankrupt and the Boise staff has revolted over the firing of the managing editor.

Between having the pages and headlines created in Sacramento and the paper being printed in Twin Falls, the early deadlines precluded timely coverage of city council meetings and BSU sports.

Since the Statesman even sold its office on Curtis Road for a storage facility, we didn’t attempt to make the call to confirm the “folding” rumor. It is just a matter of time for the formerly great news institution to print its final edition. The transition to a digital product is clear to readers and staff alike.

GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier said, “We need a free and vibrant press in Idaho and America. IF the rumor is true, the passing of the once-great newspaper would be a loss to all Idahoans.”

Comments & Discussion

17 comments for “Will Local Paper Go Paperless?”

  1. sharon FISHER
    Feb 22, 2021, 11:08 am

    The statement about twin falls may not be accurate. According to the idaho press publisher, it was the idaho statesman’s move to twin falls that led to the idaho press covering Boise. https://idahobusinessreview.com/2018/09/14/hold-the-presses-an-idaho-newspaper-is-growing/

    EDITOR NOTE–no argument here about the timing. Our point is they have no press and deadlines are early.

  2. When I was a Cub Scout, in the early ’60s, we toured the Statesman facility (6th and Bannock at the time). Lots of noise! The newsroom was stereotypical – ugly gray metal desks lined up edge to edge, guys with green sun-visors, clattering away on Underwood typewriters… the air heavy with cigarette smoke. Teletype machines going “chunk-chunk-chunk…”
    The production facility was more interesting, for an 8 year old kid. Typesetters composing a page using lead-cast letters from a dingy wooden matrix of boxes. A cauldron of melted lead, for making more letters… the mammoth presses with huge newsprint rolls. Amazing stuff!

    My first job was delivering the AFTERNOON edition of the Statesman; I snagged my papers a block away from my school – East Jr. High. Later I graduated to morning edition… and it was a rare household, that didn’t take the morning paper. (35 cents a week, or 45 cents if you wanted Sunday.)

    Times have sure changed! I bet it’s been 10 years since we had a newspaper subscription. Probably haven’t watched news on TV for 2 years.

    Unfortunately, the LOCAL news seems to mostly be composed by PR staffers from government agencies nowadays. And, our “news outlets,” by and large, all have an agenda of some sort. It may be harder than ever before, to filter the real news and the fake news.

  3. Tom Lorentz
    Feb 22, 2021, 2:21 pm

    Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope this doesn’t actually happen. The digital edition just doesn’t do it for us with crosswords et al. The print edition is costing us about $87 a month so it isn’t inexpensive but we decided it was worth it. We also take the Idaho Press tribune but it doesn’t measure up to the Statesman in terms of content and editorials.

  4. Tom. Try Shortyz app if you have a tablet. Bikeboy…with tv news you are missing endless weather reports and constant hyping of their apps. But hey, they CARE.

  5. Western guy
    Feb 22, 2021, 4:47 pm

    $87 a month!?!?!

    I’m paying $150/year for print & digital.

  6. I have some bad news for you Mr Guardian….The once great Idaho newspaper passed on many years ago….

  7. The liberal leaning of that paper undoubtedly contributed to its’ demise. How many restaurant reviews and concert or beer fests do we have to see? It is an urban, millennial guide at best.

  8. David Klinger
    Feb 22, 2021, 7:54 pm

    My last renewal subscription offer from the Statesman came close to $500 a year. That’s been one of the problems — the offers to renew varied so widely from individual customer to customer that it took on the aura of negotiating a purchase from a rug merchant in a Middle Eastern bazaar … only the voice you were talking to on the telephone originated in the Philippines. The prices got lower the longer you stayed on the line and haggled. I won’t do that. Embarrassing. Newspapers that formerly earned most of their revenue from advertising and treated circulation as a “loss leader” (keeping subscription costs low, in order to deliver a high volume of subscribers to potential advertisers, have had to inverse the ratio — now, circulation prices have gone sky-high in order to compensate for the fall-off in ad revenue. The pandemic has only made things worse. It will be a sad day if we lose a newspaper, regardless of political point-of-view on the editorial page. We’re already paying the price of the fall-off in investigative reporting and day-to-day “go to meetings” gumshoe reporting in places like City Hall and county government. When the disinfecting glare of the public spotlight is removed from government and how the public’s business is being conducted,, bad things happen. Typically it’s been daily newspapers that have served that function in American society for more than 200 years. We can’t rely on shady bloggers and social media “tweets” to perform this vital function.

  9. western guy
    Feb 23, 2021, 6:50 am

    Statesman’s new USPS address is at a retail mailbox store on Overland Road near Five Mile.

    Buh Bye…

  10. David Klinger
    Feb 23, 2021, 10:44 am

    I used to believe we were in an over-information age. Then I believed we were in a dis-information age. Now I believe we are entering a non-information age. Boise is potentially losing our principal daily newspapers that perform a vital, watchdog function on government. Our “alternative weekly” does little more than review movies and the latest fish taco food carts. Local TV news has mostly become “happy talk”, covering the latest “walk-a-thon” or charity drive, and helping us “feel good about ourselves”. And “bloggers” (such as they are) don’t typically show up at meetings of the planning commission or school board for the hard, unbiased, factual reporting. Investigative reporting has become a lost art. Now (as witnessed at January’s “housing bonus ordinance” hearing of the Boise City Council) future zoning actions governed by this sweeping new change mostly won’t require public hearings; they’ll just be approved in-house, by staff, outside of the glare of public scrutiny and monitoring. Increasingly, in this new, non-information age we are entering, the public’s business will be done in private. That’s when the problems, the deal-making, and the malfeasance will accelerate … and we, as ordinary citizens, won’t even know about it. “The truth will set you free” will be just a vestige of that pre-Internet era when we actually knew more about what was happening in our community than today, when we know far less.

  11. One might say we haven’t had a statesman in Idaho since Frank Church!

  12. Private equity and/or the demand for profits strikes again, right? Not everything needs to be excessively profitable, and not everything needs to be parted out and bled out for dollars. A “modern” newspaper represents, ideally, an impartial source for facts that I cannot personally gather. I don’t have the time and energy to attend school board meetings, ACHD meetings, Ada County meetings, Boise City meetings, the Legislature, and so on and so forth.
    Obviously there are two problems here: making sure the information provided is factual, and making sure the information provided is useful. I gave up on the Statesman because its corporate owners have reduced the value to me–there just isn’t enough latitude or column inches (or bodies!) provided to make it worth the money. And this makes me very, very sad. Certainly there is a need for wire service stories for things that the public needs to be informed of, but I can get those anywhere. Fill me up with the local stuff!
    I hope the Idaho Press (I’m old enough I still want to call it the Nampa Free Press and Caldwell Tribune) keeps making a go of it. When I look at the talent they’ve brought in, and their apparent commitment to journalism over increased profits, I’m excited.
    Also, a serious shoutout to forums like this one, BoiseDev.com, and similar that are helping fill the gaps. Good work guys!

  13. Tom Knappenberger
    Feb 24, 2021, 10:59 am

    As someone who worked 10 years at The Statesman —Nampa bureau rat, city hall reporter, editorial writer and city editor — I mourn this imminent passing. Many, many memories. Times change.
    I like to say that newspapers are like breweries: There used to be many in every town, then few. Now with micro-brewing and the internet, anyone can be a brew master or news purveyor. Though not usually a good one.

  14. It is sad to see the slow death of a venerable paper. I imagine that the failure comes from owners, recent past and present. Then the Idaho Press hired several top reporters and drove a nail in the Statesman. Now the reporting is weak and a day old. I still take it in digital format but read it less and less. This Times News and Idaho Press report the news timely and far more comprehensibly.

  15. Daryl Weiss
    Feb 25, 2021, 1:23 pm

    Some great award-winning journalism there.

    “Someone told us that someone told them that they have a letter which they interpreted as a newspaper going out of business.”

    And then my favorite line, “Whether true or not, the end is clearly near.”

    What????

    I think this publication should go out of business.

    EDITOR NOTE–Fair enough. The GUARDIAN did confirm receipt of the letter with the retailer. The conclusion about digital only was that of the clerk and reader.

  16. western guy
    Feb 25, 2021, 5:55 pm

    The Statesman’s local stories are 2 days old, minimum, and many are week-old reprints from WaPo, NYT, Spokesman-Review.

  17. Bikeboy and David K hit the nail right on the head. Has anyone really watched the pathetic excuse of “news” on any of the major TV networks? They are nothing more than regurgitation of the stuff put out by the PR flacks at the City, County, etc. Anything else is extended “comprehensive” weather forecasts (which are mostly false) and any feel-good happy stuff from their corporate sister stations.

    An uninformed public in a free society is dangerous.

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