The Albuquerque Tribune shut down today. As its own report of its demise mournfully notes:
The Trib’s daily circulation in January was about 9,600…In 1988, the newspaper sold about 42,000 copies a day.
It was founded by a muckraker who came up with the motto for the Scripps newspaper chain: “Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way.” They certainly found their way to illumination somewhere other than newspaper stands.
The Tribune had 38 editorial employees. On average that means they were each producing content for about 250 people.
Has Albuquerque been shrinking? Nope. In 1990 the population was around 385,000. Today it stands at 455,000. So the Tribune has lost circulation in a town where there were more potential readers.
To generate some more heat a few years ago it hired a conservative columnist. This was probably considered an innovation. It didn’t work.
Newspaper decline is not — as I’ve argued before — a content thing. Journalistically, the Tribune is probably as good as it ever was, since it started back in 1922.
The conservative columnist reviews the Coen brothers’ latest offering in his parting shot.
[O]né of the key story lines winding throughout the movie is the rapidly changing nature of crime racing past Sheriff Bell, a man from a long line of men who pledged to combat it. Bell was sadly and brilliantly played by Tommy Lee Jones.
Set in 1980, Bell is honest, decent and polite. He fights fairly. He is, in essence, a dinosaur, as dated as a rotary phone, as out of fashion as a powder-blue leisure suit.
At one point in the movie, Bell is seated in a coffee shop reading a newspaper. No cell phone, no flat screen TVs, no laptops. Nothing but a cup of coffee and the previous day’s events afforded in cold black-and-white.
Just 28 years ago. The Stone Age.
Of course, the film is set in Texas, but most of it was shot in New Mexico. Budgetary reasons.
Online readers offered their own valedictories:
- I don’t care for the environmental waste that comes from having a daily paper delivered, assuming I was there to pick it up every day, which I typically am not because I put in 70 to 80 hour work weeks.
- I … don’t care to pay to sift through gigantic wad of paper every day to find the two to three pages that aren’t spin or advertising. Most of what a newspaper is, is not actually useful to me.
- It’s mostly advertisements, punditry, spin, and gigantic amounts of information that really do belong online: page after page of classified ads and stock prices that will be wildly out of date by the time anyone looks at them.
- No way am I willing to pay for a full Journal subscription to avoid those idiotic on-line ads about some guy “sitting down to breakfast with the paper” as if anyone actually does that any more. I can get news from nearly every other major city worldwide without having to do that.
- Sayonara, news in Albuquerque.