Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why do newspapers need opinion pages?

As ad revenues fall, news holes are getting markedly smaller. At the newspaper at which I work, we are dealing with an effective news hole of 3 or 4 pages out of 18 or 20 on any given day. I understand the need to save on newsprint. But there is also the need to cut content that is unnecessary. So I ask, how many people buy the newspaper for the opinion page? There are 129 inches of news print that would be best reposition for what we do best, write copy on local news, and ditch what people can get elsewhere, read syndicated opinion pieces and editorial cartoons.
In most newspapers, the letter to the editor is a marked anachronism. Who bothers writing a letter, when they can comment on the story directly online? I'll tell you who. People without computers (old folks) and yahoos whose opinions make us cringe.
To ditch the opinion page would be a relief to most newspaper editors. And we'd have one more page to put news on (or for the publisher to reduce, when the ad count allows us to go to 16 pages)