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May 13, 2018

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So -- “harvesting market position” eh?

When the mafia does it, it's called a "bustout."

Thank god for blogs, it's the only way to find out what's really going on anymore. And the blogs I read are way more transparent about their political and social biases than most newspapers.

When I moved to Salem back in the dark ages, I had a work schedule that made reading a morning newspaper impractical, so I subscribed to the afternoon paper. When those papers merged, they kept some really great old school reporters and columnists who had the luxury of time to specialize full time in one area: city hall, the Capitol, high school sports, the environment, nonprofits, religion, crime, local recipes, you name it. Many of them had lived in Salem for a long time and knew the background and history on so many issues and people, and then after running a story or column, they'd follow the issue and run a follow up a month or a year later and tell us what happened. The beginning of the long painful decline was the acquisition of Salem's paper plus a few local small town papers by Gannett. We had reporters and managing editors coming in who had No Clue about Oregon history or Salem politics or anything. And they weren't paid to spend time learning about them, either. And they weren't dedicated enough to the cause of Real Journalism to do it on their own time. Enter a zillion transplants from out of state and pretty soon we had a whole city of people who were new to town and couldn't count on their local paper to fill them in on what's what. It's so distressing to have watched all of this happen.

Under Gannett, compilation, layout, and physical production of the print edition were outsourced to Arizona and Portland, copy editors and reporters and columnists were laid off, and the SJ's links to the physical community grew ever more tenuous. (A couple of years ago a friend who worked at the SJ told me that our local writers and photographers upload their stories to a late night local employee who gives pages 1 and 3--where most of the local news stories appear--a cursory glance for typos then sends the whole package to an office in Arizona where the AP, Gannett, and other canned content are added, and layout and headlines are completed. Advertising apparently has its own channels.)

Then the internet, which I love in general (but seriously, is there a decent newspaper website ANYWHERE???) just made it easier for Gannett to toss all of its remaining shreds of professionalism out the window.

We canceled our print subscription when our monthly bill doubled unexpectedly. No one bothered to let us know. We assumed they were hoping people would cancel, since obviously it's such a challenge to get the print paper out every day, so we did. Thanks for volunteering to pick up the slack :-)

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