Isthmus to Lay People Off?

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pulsewidth modulation
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Postby pulsewidth modulation » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:39 pm

Genie wrote:I do read Isthmus and have read it since it started and I think it would be a shame if we lost it.


The Crapitol Times made the mistake of calling itself a "news" paper until the end; even though it was clear they wern't reporting "news" at all, they were peddling Madison's status quo's line. That's one of the reasons they folded. People aren't interested in paying for bought and paid for government/public-bureaucracy propaganda. "Isthmus Publishing Inc" calls itself what it is, an "alternative" weekly; now with web functionality. They never charged for that day's talking points. Also, "Isthmus" delivers what a lot of Madison's population wants; sex, perceived permanent youth, sin, a culture of ease, guilt, fashion, excess, and escapism... IE liberalism.

But, "Isthmus" will have to compete with all of the self publishers out there who provide a lot of the same content they do for free. That's tough to beat, and "Isthmus" might make up its margins by cutting staff; the most expensive cost in the media business.

Besides, Madison's self loathing and self celebrating types need their drug, smugness, in large doses and often. "Isthmus" serves that niche well. "Isthmus" transitioned into the new media era, they won't be going away.

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Postby thebookpolice » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:43 pm

That post provided all the quotation marks I could have hoped for when I saw that pm had responded to this thread.

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Postby Wanda » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:54 pm

Genie wrote:
Wanda wrote:Why do I have this feeling that Genie likes to collect Precious Moments figurines?


I'm not part of your little "Precious Moments Figurines" club, sorry, Wanda. But you could take a picture of yours and post it here if you like. Start a whole thread about it if you wish. :wink:


I should have suspected Precious Moments are a bit too sophisticated, you're probably more of a Hello Kitty simpleton.

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Postby Genie » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:59 pm

pulsewidth modulation wrote:
Genie wrote:I do read Isthmus and have read it since it started and I think it would be a shame if we lost it.


The Crapitol Times made the mistake of calling itself a "news" paper until the end; even though it was clear they wern't reporting "news" at all, they were peddling Madison's status quo's line. That's one of the reasons they folded. People aren't interested in paying for bought and paid for government/public-bureaucracy propaganda.


John Nichols is farther left than anyone at Isthmus. In fact people have cancelled their subscriptions with the complaint that the Cap Times is too far left.

It's so easy to sling this kind of criticism when you're defending a paper that only comes out once/week and has never had to publish stories on a daily basis.

The Capital Times has a very rich history. Evjue started it because he supported Bob LaFollette and his pacifistic stance against WWI. The State Journal supported going to war. Evjue also supported Unions. The Capital Times has kept up this tradition. But Evjue allowed the State Journal to publish the Sunday paper and this is probably what eventually undercut the Capital Times.

Its a shame the Capital Times went to a weekly. In my mind it was like admitting defeat to the State Journal, which has some very right-wing columns - Jonah Goldberg, for one.

"Isthmus Publishing Inc" calls itself what it is, an "alternative" weekly; now with web functionality. They never charged for that day's talking points. Also, "Isthmus" delivers what a lot of Madison's population wants; sex, perceived permanent youth, sin, a culture of ease, guilt, fashion, excess, and escapism... IE liberalism.

But, "Isthmus" will have to compete with all of the self publishers out there who provide a lot of the same content they do for free. That's tough to beat, and "Isthmus" might make up its margins by cutting staff; the most expensive cost in the media business.

Besides, Madison's self loathing and self celebrating types need their drug, smugness, in large doses and often. "Isthmus" serves that niche well. "Isthmus" transitioned into the new media era, they won't be going away.


I read Isthmus for their news stories and the entertainment and food reviews.

I also read other weeklies like Madison Times, Hues and of course, the Onion.

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Postby blunt » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:29 pm

Shipley wrote:so... my hounding for a proper staff position won't work out.
.


Yep.
Should have hired us when they had the chance.

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Postby meowzamusic » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:09 pm

So, is getting laid off like when someone won't have sex with you?

blunt
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Postby blunt » Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:50 pm

I like getting laid.
I like getting off.
Getting laid off, not so much.

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Postby Shipley » Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:31 pm

blunt wrote:
Shipley wrote:so... my hounding for a proper staff position won't work out.
.


Yep.
Should have hired us when they had the chance.


Yeah, now we could be collecting sweet unemployment checks.

I've been writing for free for over 10 years. I'll probably keep writing for free.

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Postby peripat » Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:51 pm

Anyway-what passes for 'far left' these days would have been moderate in the 50s-go figure...

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Postby blunt » Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:17 pm

Shipley wrote:
blunt wrote:
Shipley wrote:so... my hounding for a proper staff position won't work out.
.


Yep.
Should have hired us when they had the chance.


Yeah, now we could be collecting sweet unemployment checks.

I've been writing for free for over 10 years. I'll probably keep writing for free.


Hey kids! Let's start our own paper!
We can use my dad's barn!
And my mom can make copies!

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Postby Shipley » Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:54 pm

I was only maybe a couple years, maybe a couple months too late to join in the 'zine scene of the late 80s/early 90s. I am not going to pick it up now.

though I did love buying a stapled stack of copied papers at the record store in Fells Point Baltimore to read about bands with dirty names and listening to their included 7" records.... ah shit, maybe I do want a zine.

blunt
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Postby blunt » Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:57 pm

I was huge into zinedom.
Mine was at first called The 1st Church of Cardtables and Occasional Masturbation.
It was later changed to WOO-WOO.
Reviewed in Subgenious stuff and Whole Earth and Wired.
Frank Zappa and Capn Beefheart and Stewart Brand and Ivan Stang and Henry Rollins and The Melvins and Nina Hagen amongst others had subscriptions.
And then I got so popular I went out of business.
Kinkos isn't cheap.

But that's the reason for my obsession with Isthmus.
It was the first integral bit of integrity I could grab onto as I spiralled into Madison fresh off the boat from Seattle and The Rocket.I felt like more than halfway across the country I had found my people.
Throughout the years, Isthmus has been beddy beddy good to me. Cattleprod and Headpump and Tank of Excitement and BiffnBlunt all found lots of great coverage in the generous arms Isthmus. David Medaris and Dean Robbins have been gods to me. Tom Laskin taught me word sardonic.
My enduring love for Isthmus is the impetus behind my criticisms and pining. Sometimes the paper seems in danger of too much gentrification and lack of edgy humor. They have come a long way from the posthippy punk zine of their past.
So if anyone wonders why I love and hate and want to work for Isthmus so much, there you go.
Plus, people actually go to bed with me for stuff I've posted on TDP so imagine what might happen if I ever get into print....

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Postby Ned Flanders » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:22 pm

It's not exactly an industry secret that newspapers, especially big-city dailies, are tanking in terms of circulation and revenue. There's a new rash of articles today involving the Portland Oregonian, USA Today and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Both the Star Tribune and Pioneer press are suffering badly in the TC. The demise of the NYT under Punchie is legendary.

Newspapers are stuck in a 19th/20th century model of retail ad pricing and promotion which is affecting their ROP revenue. But the real secret, and the place they're losing the most money is classified advertising; highly profitiable pages whose revenue has gone to ebay, cars.com etc.

Papers are less and less relevant as people grab news online and from original sources like AP whenever they want. It's also clear that younger people are not picking up the paper and ink newspaper habit.

Yes, papers have all gone online. But they haven't found a way to make readers pay to subcribe. Online ad revenue is OK, but the infrastructure to put a paper online is substantial and online ad revenues aren't making up the difference.

That said, I can't say that alternative weeklies like Isthmus and City Pages are facing the same deep problems as the dailies. These papers, in most cases, are only decades old (and not hundreds of years) and not mired in the union contracts and huge infrastructre like the big-city dailies. Of course they have "fixed costs" like newsprint, staff and ink. But TV and radio stations have a lot of fixed costs too. Alternative weeklies tend to have a younger readership with a higher income. They're also more flexible in terms of pricing and promotion which makes them more attractive to advertisers who are comparing media on a cost per thousand basis.

The bottom line is that owning a TV station, a radio station or a newspaper is no longer a license to print money. There's a street fight every day to get "your share" of advertising dollars. And it's not pretty. But out of the whole "family tree" of newspapers, alternative weeklies are probably best-positioned to remain relevant in the new media world.

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Postby aaron » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:36 pm

Ned Flanders wrote:It's not exactly an industry secret that newspapers, especially big-city dailies, are tanking in terms of circulation and revenue. There's a new rash of articles today involving the Portland Oregonian, USA Today and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Both the Star Tribune and Pioneer press are suffering badly in the TC. The demise of the NYT under Punchie is legendary.

Newspapers are stuck in a 19th/20th century model of retail ad pricing and promotion which is affecting their ROP revenue. But the real secret, and the place they're losing the most money is classified advertising; highly profitiable pages whose revenue has gone to ebay, cars.com etc.

Papers are less and less relevant as people grab news online and from original sources like AP whenever they want. It's also clear that younger people are not picking up the paper and ink newspaper habit.

Yes, papers have all gone online. But they haven't found a way to make readers pay to subcribe. Online ad revenue is OK, but the infrastructure to put a paper online is substantial and online ad revenues aren't making up the difference.

That said, I can't say that alternative weeklies like Isthmus and City Pages are facing the same deep problems as the dailies. These papers, in most cases, are only decades old (and not hundreds of years) and not mired in the union contracts and huge infrastructre like the big-city dailies. Of course they have "fixed costs" like newsprint, staff and ink. But TV and radio stations have a lot of fixed costs too. Alternative weeklies tend to have a younger readership with a higher income. They're also more flexible in terms of pricing and promotion which makes them more attractive to advertisers who are comparing media on a cost per thousand basis.

The bottom line is that owning a TV station, a radio station or a newspaper is no longer a license to print money. There's a street fight every day to get "your share" of advertising dollars. And it's not pretty. But out of the whole "family tree" of newspapers, alternative weeklies are probably best-positioned to remain relevant in the new media world.


I agree with everything you've said (for a change). However, despite the fact that I also get news online, there are times that I just "want" to sit down and sip a cup of coffee and actually hold and read a goddamn newspaper (or magazine).

I can read the Sunday NY Times online, but that just doesn't do it for me. I want to buy it and carry it home and savor it. I could spend an entire Sunday pouring through the NY Times. (I don't, but I could.)

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Postby Bwis53 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:56 pm

I used to read more newspapers when they had more news in them! How many memberships do you have to have to find out what's going on? Anyone remember the old WSJ and Cap Times! Early '70's, my neighbor and I swapped papers, so we could read both, for the price of one. I dumped my precious round dining table, because I realized I never ate a meal there. I pull up my comfy office chair to the Mac. I save paper for the bathroom!


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