An experiment.

John Scalzi did this over on his site, out of curiosity, he says. Well, the next big writing project I have to do involves this very topic, so I’ll do it for every journalist’s favorite reason: To avoid doing the work myself.

Kidding. I’m actually curious, too. So here we go:

1) Do you subscribe to a daily newspaper? (If you have an online subscription that you pay for, include that, too, but tell me if it’s online.)

2) Why or why not?

3) If you don’t subscribe, what could get you to do so? If you do, what would make you drop your subscription?

Leave your answer in the comments. (This is actually tangential to what I’m writing, but it’s still interesting to me.)

Oh, and my answers:

1) Yes, the WSJ and NYT daily. I read the hometown papers online and buy them on the newstand on the days I’m out.

2) Because I’m a reader of all things, including blogs.

3) I’d drop both if either daily-delivered paper made significant cuts — that is, cuts I would notice — in their coverage.

Fuller discussion to follow.

Posted at 9:08 am in Uncategorized |

28 responses to “An experiment.”

  1. Mindy said on November 1, 2005 at 10:18 am

    1.) Yes. The N-S and the Sunday JG. Will pick up the Chicago Tribune if I’m out, especially Sunday. Also get the little weekly rag from Leo – have to pay for now it because I moved outside the town limits.

    2.) Local news, local advertisements. National news because I have dial-up and not enough time or patience to read current events online.

    3. Probably will not drop the paper ever unless the coverage becomes so embarrassing that continuing the subscription is criminal. Local news is valuable, and local TV is irritating.

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  2. brian stouder said on November 1, 2005 at 10:22 am

    1. Yes � but not every day. The J-G has a deal which morphed into a �-week sub, wherein we get the paper Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only � which suits us fine.

    2. As a wise woman once observed � one fine day we looked at 3 rolled up papers laying on the step and asked �why are we paying for this?�

    3. The attractive thing is the less-than-daily nature of the subscription. I�d rather have a large compendium of stuff on a non-work day (like the Sunday paper) than seven smaller units spread over the whole week. I would absolutely pay full price (plus) if they offered a tailored less-than-daily sub with a weekly digest of all the stuff you should really have read�.kind of what this blog does for me!

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  3. Julie said on November 1, 2005 at 10:25 am

    1. Yes, the NYT and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I live in Athens, GA, and read the local paper online (free).

    2. I have to start my day reading an actual paper. NYT because it’s the NYT, and AJC to get the state news I need for work and entertainment.

    3. I doubt I would drop either, unless the political slant headed right. That’s one reason I’ll never pay money for the local Athens paper…along with the abysmal quality of writing and editing (sad for a college town with a journalism program).

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  4. Loulou said on November 1, 2005 at 11:11 am

    1. No

    2. [A] Cost; I support a sick, non-employed husband and shave costs where I can. [B] I prefer the middle of the road afternoon paper to the righty morning one, but want to read a morning paper. [C]Disposal.

    3. I read the news on Yahoo, which I have set up to cover areas not covered in local papers [sons living overseas]. And sometimes read the free Online version of my preferred local paper.

    4. Am not likely to subscribe.

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  5. Dave said on November 1, 2005 at 11:22 am

    Yes, N-S and Sunday J-G. Also, the Northwest Allen County News, based in Huntertown, for the local, local news.

    Gotta read the paper, that’s why, it’s an addiction of longstanding and besides, I’m the age of the average newspaper subscriber (or so I’ve read).

    I’m sure that I’ll subscribe to some newspaper as long as I live or as long as it makes sense to me. I’m diehard and that probably won’t change and I’m thinking I’m probably pretty rare for a newspaper subscriber, I know plenty of people who get no newspaper whatsoever.

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  6. yamb said on November 1, 2005 at 11:23 am

    1. Yes, the local metropolitan paper, but we don’t get it on Sunday, because there’s so little news, and so much waste. Used to get the Wall Street Journal at home, but now I read it at work. Also get two local weeklies for the, well, local doings.

    2. Reading it sets a good example for kids. Because I love reading. Because we don’t watch TV news. There’s just something about the tactile-ness of getting your news. The funnies are easier to read on paper than online.

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  7. alex said on November 1, 2005 at 11:33 am

    (1) No.

    (2) Because the local papers suck and I can read them for free at the office; as for good papers, they’re too much of a luxury at my current rate of pay.

    (3) A lifetime bargain subscription offer on a paper like the NYT.

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  8. Michael G said on November 1, 2005 at 11:36 am

    I wish I had the time today to produce an essay about my newspaper reading habits or attitudes and thoughts on newspapers. Since I don’t, the following applies only to the means of obtaining a newspaper, not the whys for reading one. I read the San Francisco Chronicle daily (bought off a rack) and the Sacramento Bee and the Auburn Journal on Sunday. Again bought off the rack. That’s all the real newspaper I have time for. I also read tons of stuff on line.

    1. I do not subscribe to a newspaper.

    2. The reasons are mostly two: I leave for work around 0430 in the AM and cannot depend on delivery of the paper before I leave and it has also been my experience over the years that the edition delivered to subscribers’ homes is an early one that dates to about 2100 the day before. So the home edition misses (or used to miss) late news and sports. All questions about content or slant or whatever aside, the paper absolutely would have to in my little tube (I’m rural) before I leave for work.

    3. I’m already paying rack prices daily. Money could be an inducement — a subscription being cheaper than a rack purchase — but not a major factor. The deal maker/breaker is dependable delivery. And that’s every day, not some or most days. As noted above I leave for work early and if the paper isn’t there it’s worse than useless because then I’d have to buy another one to read. And when I get home I’d have to dispose of the unread one delivered after my departure. I’ve had people swear that they would get the paper to me on time but it’s never happened more than three or four days a week at best. Also the paper delivered would have to be the final edition. That’s it. Those two factors are the deal makers and the deal breakers. I also subscribe to Nance’s Number 3. If content went away there wouldn’t be any point.

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  9. Dorothy said on November 1, 2005 at 11:36 am

    1. Yes, The Greenville News and the weekly free paper, The Journal. I read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette daily on line, and then read quite a few others occasionally.

    2. I like to be aware of what is going on in the world around me. And it’s also habit. I grew up seeing my parents read the paper everyday. I thought EVERYONE read the paper. I still feel a little stunned when I talk to friends who do not. Sometimes I think I judge people by whether or not they are news readers. I think it’s something intelligent people should do on a regular basis. I also think it keeps my brain sharper when I read regularly.

    3. I can’t imagine ever dropping a subscription to a paper – unless I was a public official and they libeled me or something. But that ain’t gonna happen, I guarantee.

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  10. maureen said on November 1, 2005 at 11:47 am

    1) San Diego Union Tribune and WSJ.

    2) We get the local paper because my son likes the comics, my husband the sports section, and I enjoy the crazy letters to the editors. I also read the obits. I glance at the front page, but do not read the national news, preferring on-line journals for immediacy (that paper was printed a whole five hours ago!) and magazines/books for in-depth coverage. I also read the local news, just to keep in touch with my hometown news as it is useful in my work. Oh, and I read the weather, tide, and surf report. I get the WSJ because I am employed in the finance field, plus I have a significant interest in economic and business coverage. I am less likely to read the political pieces in the WSJ.

    3) I can’t see dropping either subscriptions. They both serve different roles, and I read them for coverage in areas that I think they provide a competent perspective.

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  11. Rory on Lawn Guyland said on November 1, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    Yes. NEWSDAY 7 days a week, and the NYT on Sunday only.

    HAVE to read a paper every day. Growing up, Dad worked for the NY Times as a laborer. Brought home five days a week the Times, the NY Daily News, The New York Mirror, The Journal American, and sometimes the NY Post. Also had the Long Island Press delivered 7 days a week. Started reading (comics pages) when I was 4, so it’s a habit I’ve kept up.

    Have thought many times of dropping Newsday, as they’re hell-bent on winning more Pulitzer Prizes, and seem more intent on reporting from way-over-there, to the detriment of Long Island coverage.

    But as of now, they’re the only show in town, although they’re getting heat from a new version of The Long Island Press, a free weekly. (Full disclosure: I do freelance writing for the Press. See my latest cover story (Ahem) if you’re so inclined, at

    Also read (of all things) the San Francisco Gate online ( daily, primarily for their Day in Pictures feature. Never even BEEN to SanFran. Go figure.


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  12. colleen said on November 1, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    We get the J-G Fri, Sat, Sun. Only because when you get the Sunday paper, you get the other two.

    Online, I read (glance at)JG, NS, pay for Cols Dispatch. USA Today, Garden City (KS) Telegram, Lorain Journal, Freep sometimes….etc, etc. I may stop paying for the Dipatch. Sometimes Wash Post.

    I’m the daughter of two former newspaper reporters, who grew up in a two paper a day house. But I don’t think I’ll ever go there myself….too much is available online, and I don’t need the extra paper flotsam and jetsam in my already squirrel piled house.

    Something I’ve noticed of late in features is seeing a headline that I find interesting, only to discover the story is about a person in Fresno. I don’t read the story most of the time, because I want to read the cool stories of people in my own city.

    What could get me to subscribe? Nothing. It goes from interesting and relevant to clutter in a flash, and I am trying to de-clutter.

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  13. MichaelG said on November 1, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Rory — is the site of the San Francisco Chronicle. Don’t ask me why they have that URL. It probably relates to one of those stories about someone grabbing URLs on spec. While you’re there read Jon Carroll’s column.

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  14. hank said on November 1, 2005 at 12:35 pm

    1. I get the WaPo and NYT delivered home on Sundays only. I get the “electronic edition” of the WaPo every day (for $10/month), which is different from the web site; it is an exact copy of each page/section in the paper, downloadable by about 4 a.m., and unlike regular PDFs, I can click on the articles, photos or ads and read them clean in a pop-up window. As a WaPo reporter, I like to _see_ the pages; but I’m not a fan of newspapers stacking up in the kitchen six days a week. I also get the paper free at work (and easy access to free copies of the NYT, NYDN, NYP, B’more Sun, LA Times (a rinkydink, 11×17 “National Edition”), the WSJ and USAT. (By “easy access” I mean copies that I could conceivably take with me to the men’s room around 3 p.m., at which point they are considered “mine.”)

    2. Same reason nancypants gave. My waking life is really just a constant hunt for news, entertainment, stimulation, enlightenment. I’ll buy a newspaper anywhere. Just to have with me. Just in case. The web has yet to even approximate the enjoyment I get from looking at a newspaper — the story placement, the design, the feel of it, the speed with which I can scan it.

    3. If I didn’t go to the newsroom almost every day and read the papers there, I might subscribe to WaPo and NYT seven days a week. Or I might stick with my “electronic edition” and add the NYT version of that. But I might still prefer to walk to the corner and buy the papers at the deli — which doesn’t do much for circulation numbers, but is still a newsstand sale.

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  15. Laura said on November 1, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    1) I subscribe to the Cols Dispatch daily and the Sunday NY Times. I also read the two local suburban weeklies and the alt press when I see it. I read so many papers online, all non-subscription. I also read the wires.

    2) I’m a news-aholic

    3) I’m frequently tempted to drop CD due to outdated national news (of course, when you read the wires, it should be expected that you’d be ahead of the print news cycle), dumb/flippant stories meant to attract young non-readers, and the obnoxious emphasis on OSU sports. I never will, though.

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  16. Linda said on November 1, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    I do not subscribe to a daily newspaper. I glance at the NYT headlines online, sometimes reading an article if it interests me.

    I get my news from NPR. I listen while I get dressed in the morning.

    I live in New York City and the Times is expensive. I wouldn’t have the time to read it, anyway, if I had the money.

    I prefer not to read newspapers and stopped doing so when Lisa Steinberg was murdered. I am emotionally affected by the news and most of the news that gets chosen to be printed is very bad indeed. Once in a while I want the sensual experience of reading a newspaper — holding the paper, turning the pages, smelling the ink. So I buy one and I enjoy the experience. But often I read something that so completely disturbs me that it turns me off from the experience and it’ll be months before I do it again. I so detest President Bush that I cannot gaze upon his countenance nor bear to read the words that emerge from his mouth. I’ve found that I can survive perfectly well without knowing what’s going on in Washington and have for the past five years or so.

    What would get me to change is if newspapers underwent a revolution in content. I’d like to read the truth about people’s lives, I’d like not to have to be exposed to the memes of advertising and I’d like the good news with the bad because there is plenty of it. Supplemental material that adds context would be helpful, also.

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  17. SandyK said on November 1, 2005 at 1:58 pm

    1 – Yes, the daily News-Sentinel and Sunday Journal-Gazette.

    2 – I come from a family who prioritizes reading. I can’t remember NOT reading a daily newspaper. Although the News-Sentinel is not what it used to be, I can’t bring myself to drop the subscription. I like the sound a newspaper makes when you turn the pages. I like relaxing after dinner and reading the newspaper.

    3 – I’ll probably never stop subscribing, unless it gets too costly or becomes too boring to read.

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  18. Lex said on November 1, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    I think the domain dates to when the Chron and/or Examiner staffs went on strike back in the mid-1990s — it originally was the strikers’ “paper.” But I could be misremembering.

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  19. Mary O said on November 1, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    1. Yes. The Washington Post. My husband also gets the new Saturday edition of The Wall Street Journal. We both get to see the Journal and the NY Times at work. I also subscribe to the WSJ online at home, a holdover from when I was doing freelance work.

    2. Both us us have just always read and subscribed to newspapers; we’re junkies. And we’re voracious: We go out and buy the Saturday and Sunday NY Times, even though I also read the Times (but not -Select) online. He also gets the Sunday Baltimore Sun so he can keep up with state politics; I like that it has a very different view than the Post and it focuses more on Maryland. I also come from a newspaper family, so a subscription to the newspaper is always the first thing I do when I move somewhere — even when I was in college in Flagstaff, Ariz., I subscribed to the local paper. And went out every morning and got the Republic as well. However, I’m getting very tired of my husband’s tendency to not get the papers into the recycle bin quickly enough. We have far too many newspaper piles around the house.

    3. We used to subscribe to one of the local suburban newspapers, but then canceled when they sold out to some investor who then essentially fired all the reporting staff and decided to rely on wire service copy. We’re happier: We now get the weekly free newspaper that is much more interesting anyway. So I guess that’s my limit: Don’t cut back on reporting or you lose me. Otherwise, I have newspapers in my blood so much that there’s little that would make me stop. I’m so old school.

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  20. mary said on November 1, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    1. Yes, the LA Times, although I seldom read much of the daily version beyond the front section and some of the local/state stuff. I read the Sunday edition more completely, since I have more time then.

    2. I get the LAT because there is little coverage of local or state news on NPR, and the local TV news coverage consists of car chases and murders. I also think their national coverage is OK, or at least better than it used to be. I read the NYT online, but not the “select” stuff, and I read the WAPO online. I look at websites like Romanesko and follow links to stories at lots of papers, but only read WAPO, NYT and LAT regularly. I live near downtown LA, so I have lots of Times employees as neighbors, so I feel some obligation to read their work.

    3. I have off and on dropped the daily LAT subscription simply because I don’t have time to read it, and the papers start piling up. I would keep telling myself I would get around to reading something specific, and save a paper. After a few weeks I’d have a stack of barely read or unread papers, so I would just chuck them. I admit, I prefer a paper online these days for just that reason. No clutter. I used to get the NYT paper edition as well as the LAT, but then I had kids.

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  21. Bill said on November 1, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    1. I subscribe to the Chicago Tribune 7 days a week.

    2. I’ve subscribed since moving to the Chicago area 38 years ago. I enjoy some of the columnists (Zorn, Schmieg) and some of the feature writers, especially Julia Keller. I think the world and national coverage is fairly good; the local coverage is fair. Sports and business tells me about all I want to know on these subjects. I rely on the arts, movie and theater reviews and compare them with Ebert-Roeper, etc., on TV. Online, I read Zorn’s blog and drop in occasionally on the NYT, Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph and my hometown paper the Kewanee (IL) Star-Courier.

    3. I’d drop my subscription and go to an online version only if the ratio of news to features gets any more feature-heavy.

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  22. Deborah said on November 1, 2005 at 7:47 pm

    1.) no

    2.) because it stopped being interesting about 5 – 7 years ago, I read the blogs now and sometimes read the headlines as I walk past the newspaper kiosks as I walk to work in downtown Chicago

    3.) Nothing could get me to subscribe here in Chicago. But we are building a place in northern New Mexico and I am looking forward to getting the local rag there, it’s hysterical.

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  23. Mona said on November 1, 2005 at 9:16 pm

    1. I subscribe to the morning South Bend Tribune, the afternoon Kalamazoo Gazette, and the Dowagiac Daily News. I also subscribe to the weekly Paw Paw Courier Leader, bi-weekly New Hampshire Gazette and of course, the weekly Marcellus and Decatur newspapers — we publish them. I also read the New York Times and Washington Post articles and columnists online that interest me.

    2. I am a compulsive reader and a news/political junkie and rarely turn on the TV. I grew up in a family that read newspapers and news magazines.

    3. I doubt that I would ever cancel my subscriptions. Instead if something in the newspaper displeases me, I send an email voicing my displeasure.

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  24. ellen said on November 1, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    1. Houston Chronicle.

    2. Because the local TV news is so incredibly crap for anything more than the weather, so the newspaper is the only way to keep up with local and state news on important things, like education, taxes, etc. I get most national and international news online (NYT, WaPo, BBC).

    3. I am not likely to ever drop my subscription. I can’t imagine the breakfast table without a newspaper.

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  25. claudia said on November 2, 2005 at 7:32 am

    1. Yes. Subscribe to the Morning Call (Allentown). Read online: NYTimes, Charlotte Observer, USAToday, Boston Globe, SFGate

    2. I like certain writers; look for specific coverage of the news.

    3. I actually don’t read the print Morning Call all that much anymore except on weekends. It’s just more convenient to read online when I first get to the office. (My husband and daughter read the print version.) I think we take the paper more out of habit than need. I notice that the Saturday and Sunday papers just don’t satisfy my need to get the news and features…that I have to go online to feel that I’ve covered the news.

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  26. MichaelG said on November 2, 2005 at 8:47 am

    OK, my last one. Everybody has their on-line recommendations so here’s one I like along with the usual asssortment of initials: The Guardian.

    It’s fun and their “World Latest” page is very good.


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  27. Andrea said on November 2, 2005 at 2:30 pm

    1) Online only reader of the Baltimore Sun, NYT and USA Today.

    2) Mostly geography, as strange as that sounds. We moved from Baltimore to Pennsylvania, but just over the MD/PA line. We still consider ourselves Marylanders and watch the MD local news and buy the Baltimore Sun on Sundays. They will still deliver the Sun here, but it’s easier for me to read it online at work.

    3) The two York County daily papers (they still have a morning and an evening!) are, to me, boring and not well written. Very small town (they still print all of the divorce filings at the county courthouse, for god sakes!). Most stories are reprinted from the AP or other wires and the local stories are usually not that interesting to me. They often give away free copies at the grocery store if you’ll listen to the subscription sales pitch and I even turn down the free copy. Maybe I’m jaded by the Baltimore Sun’s all crime, all the time coverage, but the York paper just isn’t that interesting. (For example, in today’s morning paper online, the headline “City reaches 14th homicide of the year” was the fifth one down, after stories on evolution/creationism, the city’s years-long pursuit of a minor-league baseball team and the fight over development of a former farm [and just above the headline that Tim Russert is coming to town to speak at a fundraiser].)

    3) I doubt I would ever subscribe to the York daily papers. There would have to be drastic changes. The Baltimore Sun has made a lot of changes recently, editorially and graphically, added more color, new photos of all their columnists, etc., but why buy the cow…

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  28. JRG said on November 3, 2005 at 5:22 am

    1. I subscribe to the Washington Post, seven days a week. I subscribed to the Times Select because I really enjoy reading columnists and I couldn’t bear to deal w/ the additional pile of newsprint to have it delivered to my house, but I’m not reading it as frequently as I thought I might. Have to work sometime!

    2. I love the Post. So much to learn; so much good writing. Many great reporters and columnists. I follow a lot of the Post’s online web chats too, and it makes me feel like I’m part of a community. The chats make newspapers like talk shows in that you get the sense that you have a relationship w/ whoever is hosting the chat. But, it’s better than a talk show because the host is always smart, often witty, and there are no commercials or lame guests. And, of course, I get to talk too, which doesn’t happen w/ talk shows.

    I live in the DC Metro area, and it’s fun to know that my hometown reporters have access to what the rest of the country reads as national news. I’m a politics junkie as well as a news junkie, so I like the Post’s daily coverage of who’s saying what in Congress, and all things related.

    3. I actually read most of what I read in the Post online. Although I read some things in the print version, especially on weekends, I mainly subscribe to it so that I don’t feel guilty about not paying something for the enjoyment and [data] I get from the reading I do online. If the Post were to begin to charge for online subscriptions, I’d pay and might drop the subscription to the print version. As with other posters here, the volume of newsprint that I have to take to be recycled gets overwhelming quickly.

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