Yesterday I heard it three times- “I’m boycotting the Dayton Daily News” – I don’t want to read their site, I don’t want to support their advertisers, I don’t want to talk to them- especially the editorial board.
This wasn’t in a crowd of my usual suspects- it was at the Dayton Regional Summit, hosted by Wright State University President David Hopkins. His annual meeting of the movers and shakers in the region (“Raider Country” as he calls it). The presidents of WSU, Miami, UC and Central State were there, State Reps and Senators were there, as were congressional representatives. It was primo face time. (afterthought- here is the very good video by Kenny Mosher that they showed- he also did the Downtown plan video and the google fiber video and the Blue Sky video…. he’s been busy.)
Dayton Business Journal publisher Neil Arthur was there- as were many local leaders. But, there were no people from the DDN, Montgomery County, City of Dayton (although someone said they saw Mayor Gary Leitzell in the parking lot). My post about the need for comment moderation on the DDN site was brought up quite often.
But, it’s even worse than just boycotting the DDN- they were also considering the same of sister Cox enterprise WHIO TV channel 7. It seems that people have had enough of the fear and loathing of Dayton from these media outlets. If I was Cox corporate in Atlanta I’d start worrying- and if I was hired as a PR firm to try to turn the tide of public opinion about these operations- I’d think twice about taking the account. It may be time for the Dayton Daily News to do a total rebrand and reconstitution of its internal leadership- before they get run out of town on a rail.
When community leaders no longer care to even argue with the powers that be- it’s a bad sign. With the ease of delivering a message via social media- who really needs the DDN anymore to publish a press release?
I remember when visiting Portland, Oregon, over 15 years ago- that reading “The Oregonian” gave me a totally different vibe than what I got from the Dayton Daily. I even wrote Max Jennings a note about it- suggesting they adopt one of the nice Oregonian touches- the page jumps said “Please see story X on pg 12”- just that little please was a hint that the paper had a good relationship with its readers and respected them. The DDN actually implemented the suggestion- before they decided we were too stupid to read stories like that jump and dumbed down the paper even more.
The collective self-loathing in Dayton comes from somewhere- and it wasn’t the people in the room yesterday.
With the DDN now hawking the price of $10 a month for a subscription- half of what it was, it’s become obvious that the value of the paper is dropping like a rock. Their offer of the “e-dition” which looks just like the paper and has “all the stories” is yet another too-little, too-late move.
When the newspaper hates the community that it covers- it’s not that hard for the community to hate it back. The only question that remains is how long can they continue to publish if every single person they call for an interview declines, and has nothing to say to them? Will it bring change?
Considering some of the people who said they no longer feel it appropriate to talk to the Dayton Daily News- we may soon find out.