I’m paperless!

miami-heraldI cancelled my Miami Herald subscription. First time in my life! I don’t think I have ever not had a newspaper delivery even as kids my parents always got a newspaper or two delivered. But I am tired of the lack of service by the delivery person and the constant increase in price.

It bothers me because I want to support the newspaper and I will probably subscribe digitally, as I have done with other newspapers, which I mentioned last week. But I haven’t been reading it. I don’t even pick it up and bring it inside most days and I’ve only used it for the tv listings, which of course, I can easily get online.

When I was a kid, there were so many options, I could easily get seven or so newspapers a day if I wanted. I usually got those to read the comics.  Now I read the comics online.

I do hope newspapers all survive. They are part of our lives, part of daily life. So many of us still do read the newspapers, but we don’t realize it. But when you are reading stories and clicking on things all over the internet and on social media, most likely you are clicking on daily newspapers and reading stories that interest you. I think I must follow 100 newspapers and tv stations from all around the country on Facebook. And I pick and choose what to read as they post the stories.

I will continue my new practice of subscribing to local newspapers from around the country online. It’s not expensive, you get the actual newspapers to flip through as an e-paper and I’m supporting them and seeing what’s up around the country. I believe that the circulation of newspapers this way is up, but they are having a hard time monetizing it. I’m not sure why it’s such a problem to transfer advertisers from the printed page to digital. The audience is online.

Out of town newspapers

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I’ve been reading out of town newspapers. Digitally. I’ve subscribed to a few.

The New York Daily News is not what it was, but I guess no newspapers are. I used to read three or four dailies a day when I was in New York – The Daily News, the NY Post, Newsday and the NY Times. Then it got down to just The Daily News and then nothing. I literally do not pick up a newspaper when I am in New York. I think it might be because the Daily News gave me the run around for years regarding my comics and I’m holding a grudge, but maybe not, there really is not much to read and I don’t like their comics selection.

They are also very small and not worth the money it seems. By the time you read the printed copy, the news was already printed all over social media. As for size – what’s old is new again, the shrinkage of the paper is really how they started. The original newspapers were about 8 or 12 pages long. The whole paper was that size. I have an original New York Herald from 1861 – it’s 8 pages. But that was the size of all the newspapers back then. There weren’t many photos or graphics and ads were small lines of text, not display ads, which of course would eventually come.

In the late 1980s, there was a newspaper war between The NY Daily News and the NY Post. Both had about 1 million circulation a day and they printed about eight issues a day. Eight new front pages each day, printed and out on the street! As I walked through the city, each time I passed a newsstand, it seemed that there was a new front page.

One of my favorite stories is the newspaper strike of 1945 in NYC. I have a video of it here. Millions of papers were sold when the distributors were on strike, but not the actual newspaper. People would line up, blocks long, to plunk down their nickel for the daily paper – there were about a dozen newspapers in the city at that time and millions of issues were sold daily! I would be old now, but sometimes I wish I lived in that era, just to experience the newspapers – the large sizes, the large comics, the multiple selections to choose from . . .

Until recently, in Hoboken, as soon as I got off the PATH train, I would pick up three newspapers – The Jersey Journal, The Newark Star-Ledger and The Bergen Record, all three were easily available, but again, I do not purchase the papers anymore. They cost too much. $5 to $8 a day (total for all) in newspapers is a bit much.

Anyway, I am digitally subscribing to The NY Daily News (grudge and all), the Asheville Citizen-Times, the Charlotte Observer and a few others. I get the Miami Herald digitally along with my printed subscription and I notice that a few of the newspaper also offer USA Today as a bonus, which I never go into and my cousin is always telling me how great it is.

I remember when USA first started, I was a kid then, but always loved newspapers. I used to think it was so cool – all the color and the whole national newspaper aspect of it. But I guess I like my newspapers to be local. I read different newspapers to get their take on their local market.

When I was a kid I used to love seeing the out of town newspapers for two things – the comics and the tv listings. I used to be fascinated by the different tv channels around the country and of course I loved seeing the comics selections and seeing comics that my local papers didn’t carry. And of course you can travel the world or the country, by reading out of state newspapers.

The demise of editorial cartoons?

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You can’t please anyone. Travels With Farley from June 23, 1977.

The Washington Post has an article about the slow demise of editorial cartoons and cartoonists, because they are offending some readers and I guess in this day and age, newspapers need to hold on to all the subscribers they can.

join-or-dieIronically, the first cartoons in newspapers were editorial cartoons from way back – in fact the first one ran in, 1754! Yup, in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. You may have seen it over the years, it’s right here, the “join or die” image, regarding the colonies.

I’m often concerned about losing followers or readers, not by what I post, but sometimes what they say – in the comments sections, mostly on Facebook and Instagram. I keep my mouth shut, but at times I want to argue. I have been known to delete some comments that are racist or stupid.

But it is interesting that a couple of complaints over a cartoon and newspapers would rather dump the whole editorial cartoon department rather than a subscriber or two. Which often makes me wonder since there isn’t the competition there was years ago. Most cities only have one newspaper, so there is nowhere else for a reader to go if they are in the daily newspaper reading habit.

I feel they are spiting themselves by unsubscribing to a daily habit that they have probably had most of their lives. It’s just so easy to just turn the page – sort of like turning the tv channel if you don’t like something, rather than complaining to the network.

Newspapers – a cultural reckoning

spideyThe Daily Cartoonist talks about the demise of local newspapers and asks Who’s Killing Your Local Newspaper? They say, “In the face of layoffs, the coronavirus, and private equity firms like Alden Capital trying to strip it for parts, the news industry is on the verge of collapse.”

Oddly enough, today’s comic is newspaper related as you can see.

Recently I signed a petition to save the Miami Herald from equity firms taking over the newspaper. That is who is owning the newspapers these days – they are also buying up my little village – everything that was once mom and pop, including the newspapers are now owned by corporations or retirement funds.

For the past few years I wondered why newspapers don’t turn themselves into a commodity, something people want – and what I mean is when a newspaper has a story or feature, say destined for Sunday’s paper – a big feature – they post it online on Tuesday. Why? What would be the point of me buying the Sunday paper then? I will read a story online Tuesday that later appears in the Thursday or Friday print edition. It’s old news by then. The stories are written and posted at that moment rather than wait for it to be printed. That’s great if the newspapers weren’t trying to save their print editions.

I can’t tell you how many times my father says to me, “Did you see such and such in the paper today?” And I’ll say, “Yes, but I read it three days ago online.”  If the newspapers published the stories and features in the printed paper first, and then after that, posted them online, it might work out better than the way they do it now. I’m not talking about news, I know they want to publish news as soon as possible, but features and stories – print them first, then place them online.

To be honest, I only get daily delivery of our local paper so I can support them. Most days I don’t even open it. I’ve read it all before it even arrives on my doorstep.

There was a time when I read so many newspapers in a day and now I read even more because I read papers from out of state and there lies the rub (I love saying that) – circulation is up due to online publication, but newspapers need to find a way to make money online – and not through a pay wall. There has to be a way for them to make money through ads. People can read newspapers from all over the world, so the audience is there.

When I published the daily news online here in town, I sold ads – I made money – it was not my main goal and I saw it more as a community service so I didn’t push for ads – but if I wanted to, I probably could have supported myself. Why can’t the daily newspapers do that? I see ads every five seconds on social media – why not the online newspapers?

Black Out Tuesday

black-out-tuesdayToday is Black Out Tuesday. Many cartoonists and entertainers are posting a black box on social media instead of the usual posts.

You will see this on my social media pages. There won’t be a comic today out of respect for George Floyd, his family and the protesters. I stand with my black neighbors and friends.

Interestingly enough I learned that using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter on these posts on social media drowns out the story for those following current events. So that is the hashtag to follow if you want up-to-date social media posts on Instagram, Facebook and the others.

You can donate to the Black Lives Matter Fund here.
And the ACLU here.

Is the Earth crying?

spacex-print2With the Covid-19 virus, the riots and protests around the country world due to the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, the virus of racism in our country and so much more these days – the anger, the tension and the raw emotion. I couldn’t just ignore it, so I created this comic last night for today. I wanted to add what’s going on in the country and world today and I guess this says it.

At first the astronauts were saying, “Do we have to go back?” but I thought that was sort of mean-spirited and too negative. I think this is better.

You can donate to the Black Lives Matter Fund here.

Today’s political cartoons

I’m sick over what is happening in our country today. Here are some political cartoons that ran this weekend regarding the Minneapolis/George Floyd murder.

Skyping the news

I like seeing everyone’s houses and offices when they skype into the news.

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Al Roker has been doing the weather from his kitchen at home on the Today Show.

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He shows different angles of the room on different days.

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Here Ari Melber is interviewing our Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Suarez has been all over tv lately because he has the corona-virus. But interestingly enough, many people are asking him why he doesn’t shut down the beaches that are crammed with spring breakers and he may be too polite to explain that the City of Miami really doesn’t have big sandy beaches. All those beaches you see are in Coral Gables or Miami Beach of course, or Key Biscayne, so Suarez has no jurisdiction over these beaches.  But I heard the county stepped in and shut down the beaches to protect those college kids from themselves.

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Ari Melber on MSNBC interviews a lot of people from their homes.

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Joe Biden has the best room, looks like a comfy den, well appointed.

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This is a doctor, you can tell by the degrees on the wall.

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Books are a common denominator, I’ve noticed many people are in their home offices or living rooms, which have great book shelves.

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Another bookshelf, a small one.

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Here is a bookshelf and a living room setup.

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Nesting, social distancing, whatever you call it; let’s do it!

my-caronaI have been trying to stay home and not “congregate anywhere,” practicing social distancing. I’m not doing things or going places where I don’t have to be. I did run to the supermarket yesterday to get a few things and it was maddening, of course people were buying up all the toilet paper, paper towels and water. I went early in the morning to avoid the crowds, but at 8 am the store was packed.

I think I am helping the cause by staying home, in this way I am trying to keep the whole country from closing down like Italy and France.  I heard that if the virus gets worse, they can close us all down, make us stay home for weeks or a month. Not sure if that is true, but it sort of makes sense. So many local events have been shut down including Ultra, the big music festival, St. Patrick’s Day events, Spring Break!, schools are closed, churches, too, etc., so there must some validity to people congregating in large numbers.

I have friends who are out and about – biking, going to restaurants, theater, church, gym. Not sure what to make of that. I tell them they are selfish and could be carriers even if they don’t get infected. Maybe I’m getting paranoid and they aren’t. But I’m more worried about loss of business than of catching the virus myself and I feel that the more we all stay healthy, the more the economy and life in general will remain normal to some degree.

This isn’t to say I am not worried about people catching the virus, that is my main concern of course. But I do want life to return to normal and it won’t until the infections decrease. The best way to do that is to stay home and not be a potential carrier.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that if we don’t start taking this seriously, we will all be quarantined for 14 days or more. The whole country!

I’m still cartooning, getting ready for the Tomversation comics debut on May 4. So I’m keeping busy. I’ve also been binge watching Breaking Bad and Shameless.

Why did the peacocks cross the road?

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I’ve been giving more interviews these days one one single subject, now that I ended the Coconut Grove Grapevine, than all these past years. I ended a publication I did daily in our town – the Grapevine was our daily news for 15 years. It was time.

Anyway, these interviews aren’t about me or the Grapevine – they are about the roaming peacocks we have in our neighborhood. Recently the City Commission declared that the offending peacocks will be removed humanely and that has put everyone in an uproar.

The peafowl roam the streets, you literally have to stop as you are driving to allow them to cross the street. It’s cute and picturesque, but I guess not if they are a nuisance to your property.

I was interviewed by NPR, WLS in Chicago, just now by some publication in Washington, DC and I think some paper in Chicago, also I see I am quoted in the New York Post and now The New York Daily News contacted me too.

I personally like them, but of course they haven’t been pecking at my car or jumping on my roof. I probably would feel differently if that were the case.

All these interviewers have me as “Tom Falco, editor of the Coconut Grove Grapevine,” and I’d like to now be, “Cartoonist, Tom Falco,” but I guess that doesn’t have as much authority and they think a title like “editor” makes me smarter and gives me more authority. A couple of them emailed me here, to this Tomversation account. When I see a newspaper contacted me, I hope it’s them asking about publishing my comics, but no, it’s those damn peacocks.