I just did something really hard – called up the San Francisco Chronicle and canceled the home subscription we’ve kept up for more than a decade. Working at a journalism school, I know exactly how difficult things are for newspapers these days, and how there is no online revenue model available that comes anywhere close to replacing revenue from print subscriptions. I really don’t want to pull my financial support, but the print edition just doesn’t make sense for our lifestyles anymore.
I’ve got nothing against the Chronicle. I’ve enjoyed it for years. Granted, we generally only read it in 5 or 10-minute skim-bursts in the mornings, but I always enjoyed those sessions. Unfortunately, over the past few months, we’ve stopped the skimming too. The sad truth is that right now I’m looking across the room at a week-old stack of unopened newspapers on the kitchen table. We haven’t even taken the rubber bands off a week’s worth of great journalism.
So where has that time gone? Mornings are a whirlwind of pushups and smoothie making, combing the boy’s hair and packing his lunch, going over the day’s plans. And then there’s the morning email – it usually takes close to 45 minutes just to parse all the stuff that comes in overnight, every night. And part of that email time includes skimming the daily email digests I get from NY Times, Washington Post, and the LA Times. It’s not like I’m not getting any news. Just that my lifestyle lends itself so much better to reading news on the computer than in print.
On top of that, my Twitter addiction has made a huge impact. Stories that really matter to me (rather than to the editors at the Chron) find their way to the top through the organic bubbling process of the hive mind. As much as I hate to admit it, I find that spending 15 minutes on Twitter is way more efficient at surfacing great daily reading than any single newspaper (and yes, some of the articles I end up reading will be at the web sites of mainstream media houses). In effect, I’m subscribed to the whole internet – why do I need a dead tree version of just one city’s paper?
Finally, there’s the iPad. We don’t own one – just borrowed one from work a few times. But from those tests, it became quickly apparent that the iPad could give us the best of both worlds. If we could replace all of our print subscriptions (oh yeah – there are five magazine subscriptions in this house that are also going mostly unread) with iPad versions, we’d feel less guilty about the wasted paper, have less clutter, and (ideally) pay much less. We’ll see how that plan pans out.
Chronicle – I love you and support you in principle. But it no longer makes sense to support you with our wallets. So long and thanks for the good times.