Garson demands to know: “Who would provide the authoritative, insightful and informed commentary on politics and current events?” Tragically, the hapless publisher asked his question on the very day when most of his readers were looking to their Sunday paper for stories and photos of Louisville’s biggest deal: The Kentucky Derby. And commentary came there none (except via the verdammte internet). Then Arnie gets snarky again: “Community bloggers will comment on everything and anything, but can you really gain useful insights that help shape your thinking and fuel your conversation by reading what your talky neighbor, Nick, thinks about global warming or tax increment financing?” Well, Arnie, our “talky neighbor, Nick” had a pretty good piece on the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby ready for us to read with that Sunday morning’s coffee; which we read before getting to your desultory philippic about the evils of the internet. And, as for global warming, if you really believe that your daily rip-&-reads from the NYT and WaPo, towing the leftist Henny-Penny line, will provide “useful insights” to help shape our thinking, then your cognitive dissonance has reached its zenith.
He concluded his exhortation with the boast that the C-J has 175,000 “paying customers.” Then he asks, “Think about it. How many websites do people in the Louisville area value enough to pay $250 a year for access?” Well, Arnie, we think you know the answer to that. Internet journalism has developed a new paradigm that attracts enough advertising to pay expenses, make a decent profit, and yet provide quality (and timely) information to its readers for free. Like those furry little mammals scurrying around at the end of the Jurassic Period, internet journalists are just biding their time until the great behemoths like the Courier-Journal realize that their era has passed, and collapse under their own weight.
Just how sick is Louisville’s Courier-Journal? Terry Boyd, writing at insiderlouisville.com, reports that, from 2000 to 2010, not a single Gannett paper gained or even maintained circulation. And the Courier-Journal came in at No. 49 out of 78, with its circulation decreasing 30 percent. C-J weekday circulation dropped by about 70,000 papers, to 161,268 in 2010, from 231,685 in 2000. Boyd’s advice? “Adapt or perish.”