• Yes, Mike, we face challenges I never dreamed of in 1982. Everything changes, and it's up to us to push forward because we sure can't go back. We must learn from the past, but not live in it.

    In many ways, life was much simpler when I started in this business. At the same time, I also never dreamed I'd be part of a multimedia project put together by one of our newer hires and an intern: The event in December was a highlight of my career.

    At the same time, I salute the work of those who came before us in journalism and at the Advocate, which has a proud history dating back 165 years. For fun, here's a link (which meant only sausage to me three decades ago) to today's date in 1982:

    January 23, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.

  • Robert,
    Yes, newspaper paid circulation has been declining for several decades for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the ability to consume a lot of information online.

    The old model of measuring only paid circulation worked best when people generally could get news only by subscribing to a newspaper or whatever TV or radio offered. These days, advertisers are scrambling around trying to figure out new ways to reach audiences. A local newspaper remains the single-biggest way to do that, but advertisers definitely have more options than ever. We have to get more sophisticated and targeted in our measurement of audience to best serve advertisers.

    One topic of conversation among editors today was the recent trend of newspapers requiring people to subscribe to read all of the news online. The Little Rock (Ark.) newspaper is one that took this step from the beginning and remains quite pleased with the results, the managing editor said.

    I look forward to learning more from all of the editors tomorrow. Have a good night. It's too cold here to do anything besides curl up under the covers and go to bed early.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:31 p.m.

  • The number of people a newspaper "reaches" and the number of paid subscribers to a newspaper are apples and oranges. News sprint ad rates are determined by accurate circulation numbers (paid subscribers), at least at ethical newspapers. Any media source, from daily newspapers to mom-and-pop websites, can claim they are "reaching" more people now than ever with the Internet, smart phones, and other technological advancements. If The Advocate is reaching more people than ever and is thriving, why is the paper getting smaller by the minute?

    January 22, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.

  • isnt circulation down across the board for all newspapers in the US ?

    January 22, 2011 at 3:50 p.m.

  • Continued ...

    Fatguy, in terms of taking on the powers that be, a recent example would be the Advocate editorial board's position regarding the city's response to the Mayfair neighborhood's water and sewage problems. In terms of news coverage, the newspaper has aggressively reported on the UH System and its relationship with its past president and Victoria campus. Of course, how you view coverage of any controversial issue depends somewhat upon your perspective. I certainly understand why readers would value aggressive news coverage.

    A difference from 1982 is that local newspapers emphasize local news more now. Readers have lots of other sources for nation and world news. Local news rarely feels as weighty as a story datelined out of Washington, D.C., or Moscow.

    On a personal note, I agree with the point that editors need to keep their egos in check. The trait I've worked the hardest on in recent years is humility. Any good work I'm associated with springs from the support of the Advocate's family owners and the talent and dedication of others in the newsroom.

    To end on a lighter note, it's insanely cold here. I don't know what the millions of people living this far north are thinking, and I treasure even more Victoria's mild winter days. While I was freezing my arse off in NYC, my wife texted me a photo of our son in shorts and a T-shirt at his middle school tennis tournament. I'm grateful for this opportunity, but I wish I were there.

    January 22, 2011 at 2:57 p.m.

  • Thanks for the discussion and well-wishes and even criticism. It's nice to return from a long day in a meeting to this conversation.

    KEC, I think you're right about how we remain in the toddler stage of our development into the digital age. We have so much more to learn and will continue to trip and fall at times.

    A couple of people made a point about the size of paid newspaper circulation today vs. 1982. A point I'd make is that the Advocate's readership has never been higher. Our most recent survey showed we reach nine out of 10 adults in Victoria County and seven out of 10 adults in our nine-county region. You can't reach too many more people than that. By comparison, a typical radio station in Victoria is in the low single-digits in terms of market share.

    Even so, we're facing tremendous challenges and changes in reader/user/viewer/advertiser expectations. We're still figuring out how best to respond to all of that.

    A couple of people made the point about typos and grammatical errors. I share the view that English should be emphasized more in schools, although even back in the day I learned the most from reading on my own and from studying French -- it's surprising me much grammar you have to learn when you study a foreign language.

    In terms of journalism ethics, many of the issues have been around at least since the yellow journalism of the late 1800s. The 24/7 world we live in now just magnifies and amplifies those. The Cohen vs. Cowles case of 1982, which prompted McGuire's comparison, is a fascinating one about the ethics of confidential sources and promises made to them.

    To be continued ...

    January 22, 2011 at 2:56 p.m.

  • The "news" part it, if you live in Victoria.

    January 22, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.

  • For the most part, no proof readers at the Victoria Advocate. Really!

    January 22, 2011 at 1:42 p.m.

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    January 22, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.

  • My congratulations on your election to the APME Board -- well deserved. I hope you can make a difference.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.

  • The difference in the 1982 and 2010 Advocate is about 15,000 less in circulation.

    January 22, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.

  • The difference in 2010 is that the grand majority of newspapers no longer write thier own stories but rather parrot whatever the major wire services put out.

    Even more tragic is that newspapers no longer serve as a watchdog against government and / or corporate corruption and excess. More often it is the case that the newspapers are in the back pocket of these entities and just plain don't report stories that would reflect negatively on their "masters".

    Case in point is our own Vic Ad Editorial board. When is the last time they stood up to the city council or local big businesses on any issue? I can't remember a single editorial that didn't give a glowing endorsement for anything the city council was pushing.

    Come on Vic Ad. Lets see some hard hitting investigative journalism. What are you afraid of ? If they try to retaliate against you for a truthful exposure you can hit right back in print and expose them even more. Do some good in the community and help root out the "good 'ol boy" network.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:36 a.m.

  • Nothing, if you live in Victoria LOL!

    January 22, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

  • Great post, and congratulations on the new APME position. Newspapers are going through a great upheaval, but it's change that they are embracing, and the Advocate is doing it as well as any small daily I've seen.

    I heard a commentator say newspapers are still in the toddler stage of a decades-long evolution from print to digital. Newspapers will try different things to get their message out and no doubt stumble with a few (remember CueCat from the Dallas Morning News?). But today, a person can e-mail, post or tweet a link to a story he or she finds interesting in an instant. In 1982, we bought 5 copies of the paper, clipped and mailed.

    Newspapers also are dealing with aggregators stealing (there's no other word for reposting copyrighted content and selling advertising around it) their content, and an environment where advertisers are trying new things like mobile coupons and marketing through social networks. And, yes, there are many more options for media that compete for people's time that did not exist 30 years ago. Still, I have no doubt newspapers, in whatever form, will answer these challenges. People still want to be informed about their communities, and they still want a central place to voice their opinions.

    I liked the comment in the McGuire post: "We are on the teacups at Disneyland and they are out of control. But wow … it is a great and fun ride."

    January 22, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.

    That difference is that in '82, newspapers had subscribers. Now, poor journalistic ethics and poor writing are leaving them floundering on the shore gasping for breath. Of course, the Internet does offer the opportunity for newspapers to inflate their numbers and stroke the egos of the editors.

    January 22, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.