How to kill a newspaper

The Philadelphia Inquirer picked up the hara-kiri knife last week, one of the sadder events in a whole series that is killing newspapers around the world.

In a memo to all staff, managing editor Mike Leary vows there will be none of that new-fangled, online Internet stuff. Not in his newspaper.

Beginning today, we are adopting an Inquirer first policy for our signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features, and reviews of all sorts. What that means is that we won’t post those stories online until they’re in print.

… we’ll make the decision to press the button on the online packages only when readers are able to pick up The Inquirer on their doorstep or on the newsstand.

A bit of local irony here. Thai newspapers including the Bangkok Post had this as their policy when the Internet started. The newspaper proprietors were so short-sighted they actually thought people would subscribe to the newspaper to be sure to be the first to get the news.

The former Philadelphia Inquirer

Bulletin! Scoop! This just in! Readers already get today’s news today from a whole variety of places: TV, radio, Internet news sites, SMS texting, office gossip…. No one interested in hard, breaking news gets it from the newspaper. They read more about such stories in tomorrow’s newspaper.

Now, the formerly excellent Philadelphia Inquirer is going to regress to the past, when dramas were on radio, kids danced the Twist and cars had fins. This Mike Leary person has proved the Peter Principle, risen above his ability, and now has picked up the kitchen shears to stab his newspaper to death.

He is going to kill the newspaper and the popular Philly.com website. There is no other possibility. He thinks readers will re-subscribe to his newspaper to be the first to get yesterday’s news. To do that, he will withhold news from the website until after tomorrow.

Yeah. That makes sense.

There has not been a worse decision in newspapering in this century. Flat statement.

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