Monday, November 10, 2008

Newspaper Follies

Thanks to one guy's deep pockets, Eureka was one of the last towns in America to have two daily newspapers. That's over now, as the Eureka Reporter has shut down. Ironically, it published its first interesting reporting in the past week or so, at least to me: a comparison of the draft report on the institutional health of Humboldt State University by high-priced consultants, and their final report which considerably softened direct criticism, especially of the university president.

So we're back to one daily, the Eureka Times-Standard, which this week managed to miss the biggest bonanza for newspapers in a generation. The newspaper business as a whole is ailing, and has been for much of the past decade. But the election of Barack Obama led to many newspapers selling all their copies and even adding to press runs for their Tuesday editions, because people wanted to keep newspapers to remember this historic event.

The Times-Standard probably wasn't one that many people kept, choosing to emphasize local stories. Other newspapers, realizing the demand wasn't entirely satisfied, gave the Obama election lavish coverage in their Sunday editions. The San Francisco Chronicle gave over its entire front page to the covers of other newspapers and magazines, all with Obama photos and headlines about his election.

Or at least I'm told they did--by the time I showed up at Wildberries, all their copies were sold out. There wasn't a Chronicle to be found anywhere else in the vicinity either. Meanwhile, the Times-Standard had an Obamaless front page--and at Wildberries stacks of unsold copies overflowed onto the floor.

The front page of Monday's T-S is notable only for the three headlines being timeworn cliches ('It's been a long time coming,' 'Like ants in a kitchen' and 'can't get blood from a turnip.') But fear not--the T-S will be printing the worst and most useless part of the Reporter: its editorials. Something smells funny about that.