Sunday, February 15, 2009



Remember a time whenever you heard that, you expected to see an image of a young boy trying to sell newspapers & broadcasting the headline news? That was my image of how metropolitan ppl got their papers, while I had visions of the "delivery boy" on the bike sending us ours at the doorstep or putting them in our mailbox.

Yeah! The good ole days. Although I didn't care about the news back then (I was a carefree kid), I did look forward to reading the comics, especially the Sunday's edition.

Of course it changed when I got older & became more aware of the world & the news came viable in knowing what was going on in your community. Of course, before the internet. I never thought I'd be a part of it as a Graphic Designer 11 years ago. From building intense car ads to help them sell designing an entire classified section, crossword page, cover pages & layout of special publications & even magazines, to learning the ins & outs & what really goes on & how stressful it is working at a newspaper. And I've been at 3.... different toilet, same shit.. with each movement the bigger the shit, the harder to flush out. But it did.

When I first told ppl I worked at our local paper, the immediate response was... "damn, you have to get up early don't you?" assuming I must do the delivery. Not thinking a Black man can be behind the scenes in the creative process of the paper. lol. But sadly, that's where most of the bruthas were... either in delivery or in production pressing the paper & preparing it to be delivered. Some times for little of nothing.

At one of the papers I worked for, I used to volunteer to help them out printing the paper when things were slow for me. In my field, it's hard at times cuz I'd either be the only Black person or the only guy..... or worst... BOTH!!!! B/c I worked with mostly females at that time, I enjoyed chilling with them. That was 8 years ago & time's changed as everybody moved on. But I'll never forget those good times.

Although the newspaper has been the most stressful job I've ever been in, I definitely enjoyed the experience & hope I never have to work at one again if I can help it... (unless it's in Editorial or Marketing, & far from Advertising)

Last week, I found out my former employer of the past 8 years is closing down their Production Department & sending the paper to be printed at another facility 2 hours away. According to their site, that's gonna be 58 ppl out of work. And this takes effect in April... Almost a year from when they gave us Artists the axe. As for the remaining employees, they've frozen their pension & suspended their 401K. Damn!

I hear a lot of ppl blame the fall of the newspaper on the internet, when actually there's a market for them on the net. They make money each time a person hit on their site. Plus, if they wanted (& some do), they'll charge ppl to subscribe to get it over the net. This might not be good for pre-press, but it's great in this "save green" kick we're in & saving them money on newsprint, which is costly.

BUt what really doesn't surprise me about the fall of this particular paper was becuz.... they no longer cared what their local public wanted. They never covered local news. Instead they focused on the random shit you can find ANYWHERE on the net. It lost its home feel, becuz it sold out. And that's what happens when you have large corporations in charge of local businesses. It's no longer the community's paper, but the company that owns it. And I haven't even spoke on the shadiness & behind the scenes dealings I've heard about it.

I've seen this with a lot of newspapers. And until they become a part of the community & not just another brand for companies to drain money from, the newspaper will become as extinct as the 8-track.


Muhammad the Harlem Sk8rboi said...

George I just find myself agreeing with you more & more. You're a super sharp dude. I think it's ignorant to blame the internet for the demise of newspapers. I think it may be their savior. With this worldwide push to save trees (I remember reading that it takes 85 trees to print the Sunday New York Times), the internet would be an excellent addition. Money can still be made online b/c it cost companies MORE money to advertise on your site. If a news companies can keep a healthy mix of BOTH they should still be profitable. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned local papers. Unfortunately they all lose their home base b/c they sell out to bigger corporations, and suddenly they print a carbon copy of what major newspapers print. Why buy the local paper when you can get the same news from a national paper & maybe even cheaper. When I look at your pictorial of the paperboy I recall the dude who use to deliver papers straight to my door in the late 80s, and last week I realize that he STILL delivers papers. Most brothers never get far past delivery for a newspaper so I guess you were lucky George. PEACE!

Phellah G said...

Thanks Muhammad. But luck definitely had nothing to do with me. LOL. 2 years of looking for a job in my field after college, building up my portfolio & a good rep in previous jobs, relearning programs my college didn't teach... & then finally getting in my field for almost minimum wage (with a degree) for an hour commute 5 days a week for 2 years..... I had to pay some dues, man.

But the internet makes it easier to access, & if they did it right, it could grow their revenue. But like you said, they're trying to compete with US Weekly & USA Today instead of talking about what's going on in the community.