A Dayton Daily News boycott?

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.)

WSU Regional Summit Video from Kenny Mosher on Vimeo.

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.

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12 Responses

  1. larry sizer September 2, 2010 / 11:06 am
    Susie and I have given up the Dayton Daily News ages ago, resulting in just getting the Sunday edition for the adds. I have copied them about my vision for an inner-city dog park with no response on their end, as for Channel 7, that skinny lady who does the news, is a big turn off for both of us. Hang in there David, you’ll whip Goliath…

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  2. Drexel Dave Sparks September 2, 2010 / 11:23 am
    A boycott is not needed.
    Someone who is a savvy journalist, along with a small and smart team could put out a product much better than the DDN and paperless with very little startup costs. I would suggest a team working and LIVING out of the same location could put out a better product using WordPress, and finally put the DDN in the graveyard where it belongs.
    It’s a new era. Who’s going to step up to be the next James Cox?

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  3. Jim Crotty September 2, 2010 / 11:47 am
    I can’t even remember the last time I had a paid subscription to the DDN, and even then it was just the Sunday edition. Look at the demographics they dumb-down to, David. The areas in Dayton proper, such as South Park, are in fact gaining more younger families (slowly, not many) who are more adept with using other sources for news. But drive though the south suburbs and you’ll find something entirely different. 65+. Of course I am well aware of the fact that we are all going to be there someday, but a fact is a fact. I grew-up in Kettering, and what I see today in these neighborhoods is FAR different than was the case just 20 to 30 years ago. Centerville too. Not until you get into the northern sections of Warren County do you see a local population that’s predominantly young families. Coupons and the obit section. The DDN caters to this demographic. WHIO Channel 7 too. I don’t know what’s more dated, their sets or their programming. Keep it safe. Keep it predictable. Don’t step outside the lines. That’s the name of game when targeting this crowd. Not saying it’s good. Not saying it’s bad. It’s just the reality of the situation. Granted I know of some 80+ year olds who picked-up on the new media revolution and have no problem whatsoever keeping up, but they’re definitely in the minority.
    But the fact is this demographic will eventually change. The DDN can decide to either ride off into the sunset with ’em, or get ahead of the game and make the much needed changes now. Perhaps Cox views the DDN has something entirely different than a leading-edge profit leader within their print media division ?

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  4. Melissa September 2, 2010 / 1:58 pm
    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.

    Is this something different than the version that’s available to everyone? Because their current online edition most emphatically does NOT have “all the stories” – something I run into (like a brick wall) on a daily basis. If there is some kind of “e-dition” available exclusively for subscribers, I’d love to know why we haven’t been told about it.
    I was told by someone at the paper that they specifically don’t put all stories on the web, to make people still pick up the paper.

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  5. Jeff Dziwulski September 2, 2010 / 4:14 pm
    My problem with the DDN is not your problem.  I think it is not in-depth enough.  That it’s often banal.  But considering we are taklking about pitching to bland, conformist fly-over people I figure they have to play to their market.  I guess this is what Jim Crotty is seeing (though he has a different explanation).

    The negativity reflected in the papers comments, speak-up section, and letters, is, as I stated elsewhere on this blog, is more a reflection of the local genus loci.  The DDN is not responsible for this, but merley reflects something that’s already out there.  They give it voice.  Aside from that there’s a tendancy towards sensationalist headlines and crime stories, sometimes photojournalism.  Is that an issue?  Well, this approach of journalism for the masses is old news and has been part of urban newpapers for years.  Google “Weegee” and see what I mean.

    When I was blogging at Daytonology and posting at Urban Ohio I used the DDN as a source.  They were posting a lot of hard data that I used as a source for graphics and blog posts.  They posted stories that I elaborated on.  Their online archive was also indispensible to develop chronology and background information.   Beyond that, deeper into the past,  the DDN and D J-H microfilm and clippings collection at the library helped give deep background to my attempts to prove or refute local urban legends.  The truth was out there, and it was usually in print in the papers, if not between the lines.

    I should also say (full disclosure)  that some of  the journos at the paper occasionally linked to my blog, (one even wanted to talk to me or interview me).  That was pretty flattering since they are professionals and I was just a hobbyist.  So my relationship to the DDN was generally positive, aside from my disappointment in their content (their features content, mostly).

    I figure the intent to boycott the paper is driven by the local conservative political climate.  The Dayton Daily News is mostly liberal (but not as liberal as some papers I’ve known, like the Sacramento Bee and Bingham-era Louisville Courier-Journal), so I figure this has the wingnuts fuming.  You can see that venom in the comments to the editorials.

    Living in the Dayton region one has ones finger on the pulse of Right-Wing America.  So a paper like the DDN would certainly generate a lot of ill-will as it’s editorial positions and story choices dont jibe with the conservative agenda, nor with the boosterish “alls well” agenda of the movers and shakers at this summit, who might not all that conservative but don’t like the paper airing the dirty laundry (local bad karma) online or in print.

    Daytonians are their own worst enemy.  The Dayton Daily News just reflects this.

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  6. David Esrati September 2, 2010 / 5:47 pm

    @Melissa- yes- they are now claiming to offer the complete contents of the paper- and doing a crap job of promoting it.

    http://edition.daytondailynews.com/edition.php?faq

    it’s a big digital screen shot as far as I can tell- with linked copy.

     

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  7. David Lauri September 2, 2010 / 9:14 pm
    Something stupid about the Dayton Daily News‘ new paywall is which articles they choose to put behind it. They seem to be putting mainly press releases and wire stories behind their paywall, even though such stories can be had elsewhere for free with anyone who knows how to google.  For some examples, see a blog post I just updated.
     
    Stories that are specific to Dayton and actually written by Dayton Daily News staffers, on the other hand, do not seem to end up behind the new paywall.
     
    That’s fine with me, since whenever I happen to click on a DDN story that’s been paywalled, if I really care enough, I just google it and read it elsewhere, but I’m not sure why they wouldn’t want to try to entice people to pay them for the stories that can be had only on DaytonDailyNews.com.  Perhaps out of the fear that if they did so, no one would bother to visit their website at all?

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  8. Melissa September 3, 2010 / 8:41 am
    they are now claiming to offer the complete contents of the paper- and doing a crap job of promoting it.

    It must be a soft launch, then, or I’ve just totally missed every single promotion they’ve done for it. There’s nothing on there that explains if you receive access if you are a current print subscriber, or if you have to pay an additional subscription fee. The video says there’s a “current special” of making it available free to print subscribers; to receive your account, looks like you have to register with the current subscriber information.

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  9. Melissa September 3, 2010 / 8:42 am
    Annoying – it didn’t strike thru the following sentence in my last comment, making it look all nonsense:
    “There’s nothing on there that explains if you receive access if you are a current print subscriber, or if you have to pay an additional subscription fee.”

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  10. Donald Phillips September 3, 2010 / 12:30 pm
    Don’t blame the mirror if you loathe its reflection.

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  11. larry sizer September 3, 2010 / 1:55 pm
    @ Donald Phillips: That’s a good line and will use it one of these days, who said it first? I Googled it and couldn’t find who wrote it or said it first.

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  12. Ice Bandit September 5, 2010 / 1:05 pm
    When the newspaper hates the community that it covers- it’s not that hard for the community to hate it back. (David Esrati)
     
    With your permission, dear David, the Old Bandito would like to pass the hat for contributions. With those funds we will commission a chisel-wielding artisan to inscribe your aforementioned words on a giant stone. That done, we will roll that rock to the front of a particular building on South Main Street at the Oakwood city limits. Let that boulder be benchmark, monument, tombstone and epitaph to a once great institution rendered irrelevant by a nose-holding attitude towards its’ readership. From the inanity of Marllen (the unholy combination of Marty and Ellen) to the sermons of scold-in-residence Mary….on second thought, never mind. Slamming the DDN is like kicking the neighborhood drunk and bully when they’ve passed out on the street; it’s too easy and after you’ve done it, you really don’t feel that good…..

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