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.

The NY Daily News is homeless

kamelotThe New York Daily News is homeless. They no longer have physical offices!

This seems to be the case in NYC with many businesses. Since the pandemic struck and people have been working remotely, offices have been empty and in many places, they may never return. In the tech world, Twitter, Google and so many other companies have allowed workers to work from home indefinitely.

By the way, this is today’s front page. Is this a new hashtag – #kamelot? Love it!

The NY Daily News has its original building on 42nd and 3rd. I visited it recently. Only they are no longer in their flagship building (the one used as The Daily Planet in Superman), they moved downtown – way downtown to 4 New York Plaza, which is right next to the Staten Island Ferry building. That’s where I met with editors to talk about my comics. And they didn’t own the whole building, they just rented space on one or two floors. How the mighty have fallen.

I guess in reality, the reporters are out and about all day and probably filing their stories electronically, but to think there is no physical place is sad. Even in old westerns you see the old newspaper office, where you can walk right up to the place and walk in.

The new normal. A sign of the times. And when I think of all those old wonderful New York newspaper buildings – The World, The Sun, The Herald. A thing of the past.

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The New York Herald

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Park Row from left: The World, The Sun (the small building), the Tribune and The Times

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 World

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I came across these pictures on social media. You know how I love old newspapers and newspaper buildings and these are the best. Above is Park Row and you can see the New York World/Pulitzer Building at right. I’ve never seen it so close up before.

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And here, from atop the old post office building you can see some of the newspapers to the right – The World, The Sun (that tiny building next to the World with the billboards on top), the Tribune and the NY Times. Only the Times building remains today.

Such a great period in time.

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.

The World, The Sun, The Herald . . .

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I recently came upon this old photo of the New York Herald, which looks to be in the 1920s because the park is there in front of it and originally the park wasn’t there and the dress of the man in the photo looks to be that era. It’s one of the best photos I’ve seen of the old Herald, it’s the closest image I’ve surely seen, most are from a block away, which show all of Herald Square, but this – this is a nice, up close photo of the New York Herald.

It reminded me of this story I did last spring on the old newspapers of New York.

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Images via Library of Congress

pulitzerI saw a great documentary on Joseph Pulitzer (left) the other night which of course was a lot about the New York World, which he published from 1860 until his death in 1911, after that his sons ran the paper (into the ground) and then in 1931, it merged with the New York Telegram to become the World-Telegram and then years later, in 1950, became the World-Telegram and Sun. You can see the Pulitzer documentary in full at PBS’s American Masters here. The story is great along with the images of the old newspapers and offices and of course, old black and white movies of street scenes and society at the time.

What was interesting about The World was that it seemed to have everything, especially on Sundays. It would print dress patterns, color comics, cut outs that kids could play with and had stories that were not breaking news, but features. Pulitzer and his staff would seek out human interest stories, which was a first for its time. He also designed interesting layouts and pages which were completely different than what was standard at the time – rows and rows of columns.

The World was one of the first newspapers to run comic strips and it started with the Yellow Kid which was stolen by Hearst his New York Journal (later the Journal-American).

One interesting item the documentary talks about was timing. When Pulitzer began publishing The World, New Yorkers started taking public transportation more often and the newspapers at the time were a perfect diversion on city transit.

I always loved old photos of the World building down on Park Row, across from city Hall. It’s gone as of 1955, and I found out from the Pulitzer documentary that it was due to Robert Moses, who seemed to destroy a lot of NYC in the name of progress, including the demise of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to which my father has not forgiven him to this day. Moses demolished the World and Times to build another ramp for the Brooklyn Bridge.

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These clocks can still be seen on the Sun Building today at 280 Broadway.

The Sun building was next door, but eventually moved to 280 Broadway, on the other side of City Hall,  where the is still today. Clocks on each corner show the name – “The Sun – It shines for all.” The Sun came back in the early 2000s but is only online now.

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Beautiful newspaper row.

The New York Tribune building was demolished in 1966 and is now Pace University.

The New York Times building at 41 Park Row is still there today. People mistakenly have claimed over the years that it was demolished for the Brooklyn Bridge entrance, too, but that is not the case. It is also part of Pace University today.

Of course, one of my favorites was the Herald, up on Herald Square, which is now an ugly box building housing Santander Bank and CVS, catty corner to Macy’s.

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The New York Herald.

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Outside the Tribune Building.

The World Newspaper

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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?

The Travel Examiner

My sister-in-law mentioned something from years ago – a travel newspaper I used to publish called The Travel Examiner. I did it for two years. I can’t believe that she remembered it and remembered the name, it was so long ago.

I was thinking of my old boss Ron Miller just last week. He got me started in the newspaper and comics business. He was an insistent man. I remember I got a call early one summer morning, I think I was off from college, he wanted to meet me, he asked me to come into the newspaper that day. I had sent him my comics and was all excited that I would get my comics published in his newspaper – actually newspapers – he owned a slew of them.

I went in and it turned out he wanted me to design ads in the production department. He sat me down and gave me a small ad to create, it was probably the size of a business card. I had never done this before and it took me quite awhile. He said to me, “It’s costing me more to pay you than the ad is worth!” And I told him I wasn’t there for that!  But I ended up getting the job and that put me on my start.

headlinesI remember years ago he told us about the newspaper pages come out as one piece, something called pagination. We stood there in wonderment at what he was saying. Back then we used razor blades and big large Compugraphic and Varityper typesetting machines. There was even just one machine that made headlines. That’s the machine that did headlines in the photo. We did everything separately and pasted it all together, using a waxer, or waxing machine. Where the photos went is where we placed red boxes and the camera-man and stripper would strip in the photos separately. So we could not imagine a page coming out as one whole piece when he explained that to us.

I published many comics in the newspapers, I learned the printing and newspaper business from Ron and it gave me a good life all these years as I started my own business and printed many publications and other things for people over the years, including school newspapers and such.

I was thinking about The Travel Examiner and remembering that after two years I had to shut it down because Ron and others at the newspaper plant gave me a hard time. I felt it was jealousy at the time – you know, that they didn’t want competition, but now I am remembering what happened – for two years – once a month, they printed the paper for me, which was actually a sort of travel magazine on newsprint –  and I never once paid for that! I had like 20,000 or 25,000 issues a month printed for free. He never billed me, and me being a stupid kid, never expected to be billed. I guess I thought it was a perk of the job, you know, working at the newspaper plant. But I don’t think he ever explained what happened and he just stopped printing. I ended up sending the stuff to the Naples Star on the west coast of Florida for a bit, but that got old and I ended the newspaper.

I remember one time Ron called me over to his house.  I went over and he took me out back. He was so proud, out in his backyard, surrounding the pool, sitting against the hedges was THE MIAMI NEWS – the actual blue 10 foot high letters! It must have been 1990 because if I remember right, The Miami News stopped publishing at the end of 1989. So there they were – the actual letters from the building! He loved newspapers that much, and so did I.

Ron is gone now, but I still know his kids who are my age, they still run the newspapers today.

I have all the issues of The Travel Examiner somewhere, I think in my spare room and also I think there are issues at my parents’ house.

A sense of normalcy

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I’ve noticed one semblance of normalcy – tv an tv commercials. All of our tv shows are on and the commercials are running with them – KFC, McDonalds, Perrier, cars, computers, JC Penney, Macys – they are all still running commercials. Makes me feel like things will be all right.

And the newspaper is delivered every day. I know many of you don’t read the printed paper, but trust me – it’s there on the doorstep every morning.

But I am enjoying the sense of solitude. I know many aren’t, but I am usually home alone in the day working anyway. My only concern is lack of business – and money coming in. I applied for a deferral of mortgage payments and hopefully the state or country will just automatically do that like they did in New York state. Also I’m hearing good things about 0% small business loans, so I am applying for that.

I do agree with Trump on one thing – the only thing I’ve ever agreed with Trump on – is that the economy will come roaring back when this virus mess is over. When people start making money again and people are “let out” of their houses, they’ll want to spend, not so much spend for the sake of spending, but they’ll want to go out to restaurants; go to the movies, travel – they’ll feel like birds let out of  cage and I think the economy will roar back sooner than later.

Still reading the printed newspaper

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Sunday’s newspaper.

I still subscribe to the printed newspaper – The Miami Herald. Do you subscribe to a printed newspaper?

I only do it for the tv listings, which I know I can get online, so maybe it’s really to support the printed paper. I always want to support the printed newspaper.

One problem with the printed newspaper is that the news is always old when you receive it. By the time it’s on your doorstep the news has been posted all over social media. And I understand that, the news is fresh, if you can post it the second it’s fresh, why not do that?

But what about the features? Most times I’ll read a Sunday feature on a Tuesday, when the feature is completed. It won’t be printed for five days, but there it is for all to read on Tuesday. I think that is part of what’s killing the printed papers. Why not save the features so that they are seen in the printed version first? Then they can be shared on social media or wherever after they make their debut in print.

A lot of times my father tells me something, “You know what I read in today’s paper? Blah, blah, blah …. and blah, blah, blah,” and I have to tell him I read those stories days ago online.

The comics are a lost cause in the paper because I don’t like most of them and they are too small to read, I showed a photo here one time of how small they really are – smaller than some postage stamps! I read the comics online. They are big, colorful, bright and right out there in your face.

The Daily cartoonist showed some samples of newspaper comics from 1954 the other day, that is how comics should be run – large and respected!

When I was a kid, my parents subscribed to the Miami Herald and the South Dade News Leader and I would sometimes buy the afternoon Miami News. When I got older and would traverse South Florida, I would sometimes buy the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and the Ft. Lauderdale News and I loved the Hollywood Sun-Tattler, probably for the name mostly.  You could also go further north and get the Palm Beach Post and Boca Raton News or go south and get the Key West Citizen, three of them still printed today. But these were all daily newspapers easily accessible. I loved that they all had different comics, and did not like when the Ft. Lauderdale papers combined the comics page and ran the same one every day – I sort of felt cheated.

On the west coast of Florida there are still many papers like the Ft. Myers News Press and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Bradenton Herald, and I love the Naples Daily News – mostly because it doesn’t seem to be part of a chain on the west coast of Florida and it’s still large in page size and sort of does its own thing. It’s the last newspaper I buy on my way back to Miami whenever I’m on Florida’s west coast and I stop and pick it up on my way home.