Monday, January 25, 2010

Glutton for Punishment

Back in March of 2009 I disclosed the fact that, for the first time in 12 years, I would not have a subscription to the local newspaper. This was a decision that was reached despite my long-term subscription to the Houston Chronicle.

Unlike many, my reasons for cancelling my subscription weren't ideological. In short, I could give a damn whether ChronBlog has a liberal, conservative or anarchy bias, as long as I understand it and apply the correct filter to their news. Yes, ChronBlog has never met a government solution in search of a problem that they don't like, or a tax that they felt shouldn't be collected, and yes, they're too close to Metro and the political machine that they cover, but the biggest reason that I stopped subscribing was because the value-add that their reporting provided was growing less and less every day. The Monday & Tuesday print editions are fairly worthless and, aside from the Sunday edition, I found myself taking the newspaper straight out of the bag and putting it directly in the recycle bin.

Not that I wasn't reading ChronBlog, I was. As my blog(s) changed in style I came to rely on ChronBlog content more and more. I've always said that, without newspapers, the political blogosphere would be a boring place populated by sock-puppets reciting news releases from their respective parties into the echo-chamber of a readership that either agrees, or is mocked viciously and angrily using some of the weakest arguments known to man. You want a primer on logical fallacies? Get thee to the comments thread of a blog.

I went along without a paper edition of ChronBlog for 10-months, and then my wife reminded me what we were missing: coupons. My wife is a dedicated coupon-cutter, she can save around 10-15% of our total grocery bill buying with them, and she ended up buying the early Sunday edition on her Saturday shopping trips more often than not.

Here's where ChronBlog came through. Their Wed-Sun home delivery with the ability to get the e-edition of Mon-Tues was just what I was looking for. Not only do I now get the Sunday edition for the coupons (and, to be honest, I enjoy reading through the paper on Sunday morning) but I also get the Taste section and the food reviews on Wednesday and Thursday. Since I do most of my news-reading on line, this is a perfect set-up for me.

So I find myself, once again, a member of the ChronBlog subscription base. A paying customer. My 10 month experiment with no daily newspaper has come to an end. In summary, here are the results....

- My life was actually OK without a daily newspaper to read. At first I thought I'd miss sitting down with something tactile to skim through, but I found that getting my news online was a workable substitute.

- The death-blow to the industry could be the day someone figures out how to reliably deliver coupons in some other form than the Sunday paper. I've spoken with several people who say that this is the main reason they still get the paper at all.

- I did miss sitting down and reading the food sections, especially the restaurant critiques by Houston's lone, remaining professional food critic. Granted, you would be advised to wait before trying the recipes but they do provide a good guide post for Internet searches of the same.

- Oddly, the section that I found suffered the most online were the comics. Text stories on-line were just as good as text stories in the hard-copy medium, but there was something about the comics page that just wasn't the same.

- I find myself reading more of the hard copy paper than online. Maybe this is because the ChronBlog website doesn't encourage drilling down past the front page? All I know is, when reading the physical paper I'm more likely to look at the work of the Metro columnist and the ChronBlog Caucasian Think Tank. In the online version I could go weeks without reading either. (or I'd have to remind myself to check up on them for the linkpost.)

- This is going to sound like a joke but it's not. One thing that not having a physical newspaper effects is the availability of kindling for grilling. I don't mean that rude, it's just fact. Newspaper stock makes for a great fire-starter.

Oh yeah, to the FCC, I have received nothing in compensation for this blog post.

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