Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Curious Case of the Shrinking Newspaper

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

On July 25, 1925, at the height of the South Florida real estate boom, The Miami Daily News published a 508-page Sunday edition.  The newspaper itself was three weeks old.  For many years, it was the dominant newspaper in Mia-muh.  Some of its reporting was quite good; other reporting was, shall we say, less than prescient.

In the 1980's, then called The Miami News, an afternoon paper, was losing tons of money, but for the fact that it was supported by a Joint Operating Agreement with the The Miami Herald.  I remember when I lived on a cul-de-sac street in Coral Gables.  There were 13 houses on the street.  Mine was the only one getting home delivery of the News.  I took this as a bad sign.  So, too, was the fact that the paper kept getting slimmer and slimmer.

All this was brought to mind today by what seems to be the skinniest Miami Herald in memory.  A 12-page "A" section.  A 1-page Business section.

Downsized in staff and newsprint, The Miami Herald has already sold and abandoned its iconic building on Biscayne Bay, where I worked as a young reporter in my brief, unspectacular career as a journalist.
The Herald's new, smaller digs are now west of the Palmetto Expressway in what properly be called the Everglades.  I don't know what is in store for daily print journalism, any more than I know what will happen to brick-and-mortal bookstores.  But I feel a loss as each of those enterprises that depend on the written word seem to shrivel every day. 

The irony is not lost on me that I am expressing these thoughts on the Internet.  But then, there isn't room for a letter-to-the-editor in the newspaper.

Paul Levine


  1. My copy of the Los Angeles Times front section today was 12 pages, but at least 2-3 pages of that is adverting. To make matters worse, they just raised my rate. When I complained to a friend, he told me he only paid HALF that amount for the same 7-day delivery. What gives? I don't like to read newspapers online. Guess I should call and complain but I'm afraid I'd be the tipping point. At least the Koch Brothers have given up their plan to buy the paper.

  2. How interesting. My Aunt Bette worked in the office at the Herald for many years. Somewhere I have a copy of the, I'm sure made-up, front page with her picture on it when she retired sometime in the?80's.

  3. Our local paper, the only one in town, has notified subscribers that they will start delivering only Fri.-Sun. Otherwise buy it at the grocery store r read it on line. Except reading on line isn't the same AT ALL and it's hard to find things. Phooey.

  4. from Jacqueline

    Very good post, Paul. I have always loved newspapers, ever since I can remember. When I go back to visit my mum in England, I generally buy a couple each day, and then a pile at weekends - can't resist it! I have a sub to the NYT, just on Sundays because that's the only day i really have time to sit down and savor a newspaper, and I have always loved the Sunday newspaper more than anything (and to read the newspaper in bed while sipping my first cup of tea of the day is a particularly indulgent pleasure). The NYT is still a hefty pile of newsprint. I read the same news online, but it just isn't the same. Maybe it's because, like several of my cousins, I inherited my grandfather's "inky fingers" and earn my keep in an allied trade - books. Grandad was head compositor (there's a job that doesn't exist any more) at the Daily Express in London, in the newspaper's 20's, 30's and 40's heyday. Mind you, generally he was in The Bricklayer's Arms on Fleet Street by the time the afternoon editions were rolling out across London - but I digress ...

  5. Gram, I'll bet you've been in the second floor of the Herald Building (currently being demolished) with its incredible three-story high windows looking out on the Bay. I worked in the fifth floor newsroom in 1969-70. I've missed the place ever since.

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