Publisher's Note — By Jody Reese
Step aside, Joe

by Jody Reese

During this period of graduations many speakers talk about going from one stage in life to another. We in the newspaper industry and, to a larger extent, in all media are currently going through one of those changes and it’s causing all sort of consternation.

First, the question must be raised: Why should you, the media consumer, care? In many ways, by being a Hippo reader you are already turning the traditional media on its head.

Still, many — especially those in the traditional media — actively oppose  changes in the way we get our news, information and entertainment, fearing they won’t be as good or as profitable as the traditional ways.

Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid is one of those people. This week, in his publisher’s column, he laments the decline of traditional daily newspaper readership. In the column, he insinuates that people are reading fewer daily newspapers because they too lazy to sit down and read the paper.

Nothing is further from the truth and nothing could be more insulting.

It’s true that fewer people read traditional daily papers such as the Union Leader, the Telegraph or The Los Angeles Times. But at the same time, more read free commuter dailies and many more are reading weekly newspapers such as the Hippo and reading news online.

The problem is not with people who ignore the Union Leader, but with McQuaid himself for continuing to publish a product people don’t want to read.

The issue is not that readers are abandoning the Union Leader, but that the Union Leader has abandoned readers by not offering a compelling product. Want proof? In two years, the UL has seen its Sunday newspaper drop in circulation 6,000, from 83,500 to 77,500.

The problems at the Union Leader are not with the rank and file. The paper has some of the best editors, reporters and photographers in New Hampshire journalism. If allowed to do the kind of journalism they can, the paper would be doing much better. The problem is with McQuaid who blames readers instead of trying to create a better newspaper.

McQuaid has made a career of being mean and nasty in his newspaper’s pages, pointing fingers at others and telling us all how we should run our businesses, our lives and our families. It’s time McQuaid looked in the mirror, took responsibility and stop blaming others for his failures.

McQuaid should embrace change and innovate — or step aside.

—Jody Reese

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