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Monday, May 03, 2010

Bad Press

Yesterday, soon after awakening on a rainy weekend morning, I went outdoors to pick up the newspaper. The bagged Sunday paper was heavy with ads, so I immediately sorted the recyclables from the sections with real content.

Very quickly, I noticed that the sports section, which I usually read first during baseball season, was missing. That's not good in Louisville, the day after the Kentucky Derby.

The front section was also missing.

The Metro section was not included. The only sections included in the bag were those that could be printed in advance -- like the television listings, real estate ads, and Features section.

I found the customer service number in Saturday's paper and dialed it to complain, but a recorded voice said the newspaper had a technical problem and missing sections would not be delivered until after noon. Later, the paper's webpage said a "press failure" explained non-delivery to thousands of customers. Ironically, one section customers did receive included a piece from the publisher touting the paper's circulation rate -- to readers "passionate about our products."

Finally, this morning, the missing sections were delivered with the Monday paper.

I'm sure thousands of out-of-town Derby visitors were unfavorably impressed by the Sunday paper this weekend. The paper's special Derby insert will not be a valued souvenir for those who left town before the company managed to print the news of Saturday's race.

The size of the paper and the diversity of the local writing staff has been in steep decline for years (thanks most recently to ad revenues lost to Craigslist and Ebay), but this was a ridiculous moment for the paper.

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