Dear Rich Benefactor/Bored Independently Wealthy Socialite,
I hear it's hard to be rich. Everything is possible, there are so few hurdles on your cushy track to success, many of you often develop strange phobias and fetishes—say, a taste for only white or clear foods.
Though I can appreciate the desire for purity, there are some things that are better for complexity, for depth. One can ensure a diversity of vitamin intake through the digestion of multicolored fruit and vegetable skins. News is like that, too.
We can live for a while on colorless, lifeless drippings, on the basics: who, what when and where. That's what Burqueños can expect from their major media outlets, TV news and the Albuquerque Journal. There are other papers in town that strive to put the blush and vigor, the variety and heart, the why, back into those bland, odorless story shells. The Alibi is one of them. The Albuquerque Tribune is another.
The Trib's circulation is comparatively tiny, about 10,000 today. That number's been on a downward slope for decades. That's probably why the E.W. Scripps Company pasted a big ol' metaphorical FOR SALE BY OWNER sign on Albuquerque's afternoon weekly. If no one buys it, it's going to shut down. Scripps rep Tim Stautberg wouldn't disclose how much the media company wants for the afternoon daily.
If the paper's so good, why isn't anyone reading it? That's you, Fancy Rich Person, brutal and to the point. If you google "afternoon daily" these days, the following hits come up: "Post won't survive as afternoon daily, but future unsure," and "Texas' largest afternoon daily newspaper publishes final edition" and "in a deal that would save the 118-year-old afternoon newspaper."
See, people used to read afternoon papers to put flesh on stories they saw the bare bones of in their morning paper. Now readers can scour the Net for moment-to-moment coverage of what Paris Hilton is up to.
I maintain, dearest Moneybags, that if the Tribune were a morning paper, it would clean the Journal's clock. Better writing, better photography, better design, cleaner copy, a way, way better website. There was a time when the Trib's beat writers regularly got to stories quicker than the Journal, even with fewer resources and a markedly smaller staff.
It's the Joint Operating Agreement that's kept the Tribune an afternoon paper. Under that agreement, the Albuquerque Publishing Co., which owns the Journal, was responsible for the business operations of the Trib. The editorial staffs were independent and, if memory from my few short months working for the Trib serves, extremely competitive. The Trib was the little guy, but also usually the better man. I'm sure no beat writer at the Journal ever wanted to see the day when his editor walked in with a Tribune in her hand and a story he should have gotten on its front page.
The JOA won't be part of the sale. So it's possible that a new owner could make the Trib a morning paper—if that person wanted to find a new press, circulation staff and advertising staff. Still, Mr. Fancy Rich Person, if our Tribune fades to nothingness, the Journal is wont to get fatter, older and lazier than ever. Please consider contacting that Scripps dude with an offer. Remember, more boats in the harbor just raises the water level.