Well, being downsized out of the Monterey Herald was bad enough, but being outsourced to India along with the paper’s advertising art department is almost more than I can take. Discontinuing my column in The Herald was simply a matter of economics. Remember, American Airlines once saved $40,000 in a single year by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class. Imagine how much a newspaper saves by outsourcing me to Bollywood. With the money that was saved by outsourcing me, The Herald is now in a position to bail out two bouzouki players in Greece.
I am excited at the opportunity to reach the approximately 21 million people living in this area of India through my website. And at least half the population here is internet savvy and involved in some kind of dot.com enterprise – at least I think they are if I am reading foreheads correctly.
I have been contacted by many Herald readers asking me about the elimination of my column, Central Coasting, from the newspaper after a run of seven and one half years. I would be dishonest if I said I wasn’t disappointed. The column provided me a forum for my varied and skewed ideas, and a chance to support many worthwhile organizations that do so many good things in Monterey. Many times the paper’s editor told me that I was the best ambassador for The Herald that they had. I have spoken to members of several organizations, clubs, and church groups, and schools. During those informal talks I have always stressed how important a local paper is. I have always believed that a local paper is the best way to keep current on issues that affect us every day, and through Letters to the Editor know what our neighbors think about those issues. I still believe that. I’ve said many times that I look at a newspaper as a brief textbook of history updated every day.
Yet, in this day of 24 hour news cycles on television, and with the competition from the internet, a newspaper must do everything it possibly can to give its readership a reason to shell out more than $300 a year for a subscription. The way to compete is to provide readers with something that they cannot get anywhere else. Editorially, The Herald is under the control of local people. Financially, it is not. The Monterey Herald is a division of The MediaNews Group which owns more than 50 papers in 12 states. Advertising dollars for newspapers have taken a heavy hit from the internet. Classified Ads, a major source of revenue for any newspaper, have been decimated by Craigslist and eBay. The content of The Herald is still managed by local editors. Yet, financial decisions are made by persons far from Monterey. Those persons send a directive to make cuts to reduce costs. The decision of what to cut is made on a local level.
Let’s take my case. Believe me, I was not being paid enough to make me stop bringing my empties to the recycling center. Yet, continuing to pay me may have meant cutting the pay of a regular staffer. In the past couple of weeks my column was the third one discontinued. The long-running Garden Column was eliminated, as was the popular Intermezzo column in the Go Section. The dilemma then, at least in my mind, is if a newspaper, in order to remain competitive by providing readers with something they cannot find anywhere else, eliminates the very features that justify the price of a subscription – why then should readers bother to subscribe?
But enough about my column. Let’s change the subject and talk about something really important – me. I am fine and will keep writing. I will be posting every Sunday here on my website. I may post more than once a week. And without some of the restrictions imposed on me I’ll write about things that I couldn’t write about for the paper. I had only two columns axed by the editors. I’ll definitely post those and describe the circumstances that led to them being banned.
Please takes advantage of the “Comment” button on my website. And kindly (as the say in India instead of please) kindly tell your friends about my website. Meanwhile I’ll try to get used to sharing office space with a cow. Bye from Mumbai.