Toledo Blade will Reduce Print Publications to 2 Days a Week

Actually, the Blade will print 3 days per week 1

created Mon, Feb 17, 2020 - updated Mon, Mar 9, 2020

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I went birdwatching along the Lake Erie shoreline, a little east of Toledo. On the way out to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped at the Maumee Bay gas station and store, located along Route 2, near Maumee Bay State Park.

When paying for our coffee and ginger snaps, I noticed a typed notice from the Toledo Blade, taped to the checkout counter. Parts of the text were highlighted with yellow. It said that starting next month, March 13, I think, the Toledo Blade would be printed only two days per week on Thursdays and Sundays.

One year ago, February 2019, the Blade started printing only five days per week. It eliminated the print newspaper for Mondays and Tuesdays.

https://www.toledoblade.com/opinion/columnists/2019/02/10/blade-digital-delivery-newsslide-eblade-toledobladecom-allan-john-block/stories/20190210023

Now, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday print editions will be eliminated.


This was my July 2019 post:

I based that post upon a July 2019 story about the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reducing its print newspaper from five days per week to either zero days or three days. Excerpts from that post:

The story is confusing because aspects of the story said that the PG will print three days a week. I think that was the original story, and then it was updated with new info, which said that the PG would eliminate all print production.

John Robinson Block is the publisher for both the PG and the Toledo Blade. JRB lives in the Pittsburgh area. The PG implements major changes before the Blade by at least several months.

It did not make sense to go from printing seven days per week to five days and then zero without an intermediary step, such as two or three print days.

The reality is that the Post-Gazette did not eliminate its print product entirely in the fall of 2019. It did, however, reduce its print paper from five days per week to three.

Here's one subscription option mentioned at the PG website:

https://my.post-gazette.com/purchase/digital-plus/

Thursday, Friday, Sunday home delivery

And here is the PG's September 2019 story, confirming that it was printing three days per week.

https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2019/09/29/new-era-post-gazette-digital-print-days/stories/201909270061

Print editions will be delivered to homes on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and the Weekend Edition is available in stores on Saturday.

“We believe the future is digital. We are maintaining our news department and the quality of the Post-Gazette. We have no plans to cut back our commitment. We will remain flexible as to how we implement the digital future based on local competitive and market developments,” Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications, said in June 2018, when the PG eliminated Tuesday and Saturday print editions. That philosophy continues as the newspaper adds two more digital-only days beginning Sept. 30.

My July 2019 post should have asked if the Blade will move from printing five days per week to three days per week in early 2020? That prediction would have been wrong too, since the Blade will be printing only two days per week.

More from my July 2019 post:

Prior to 2018, both papers published printed versions seven days per week. In the late summer or early last fall of 2018, the PG reduced printing a paper to five days per week. In February of 2019, the Toledo Blade eliminated two days of print production.

In the fall of 2017, the Toledo Blade released its NewsSlide mobile app. The PG released its version of the app months earlier.

In the fall of 2018, the Toledo Blade switched its website to a new content management system that the PG had been using for at least several months.

Based upon all of this, I'm guessing that in early 2020, the Blade will become a digital-only publication, which would be unnoticeable to me. We ended our print subscription to the Blade back in 2005 or 2006 because we didn't read it.

The Blade continues to follow the PG, regarding changes.

Still, it seems that in a year or at most two years, the Blade will be digital-only, although the Sunday print product is popular for many newspaper readers.

In January 2019, the Blade printed seven days per week. About 14 months later, the Blade will be printing only two days per week.


The Blade's subscription page for print options has been updated.

https://my.toledoblade.com/purchase/digital-plus/

E-delivery + Thursday and Sunday

Get e-delivery, plus Thursday and Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products. $4.50 / week

The only other Blade subscription option that includes print is this one.

E-delivery + Sunday Only

Get e-delivery, plus Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products. $4/ week

I have a digital-only subscription with the Blade. The digital-only subscription remains $12.99 per month. A year ago, it was $9.99 per month, and the Blade raised the rate last summer.

My post:


From archive.org, here's an October 2019 version of the above Blade web page, regarding subscriptions that contain the print version.

5-day Print + E-delivery

Get e-delivery, plus Wednesday through Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products. $4.95 / week Best Value!

4-day Print + E-delivery

Get e-delivery, plus Thursday through Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products. $3.95 / week

Sunday Print + E-delivery

Get e-delivery, plus Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products. $2.95 / week


Here are more excerpts from my July 2019 post where I made suggestions for what I would like to see implemented in the media, regarding a print option. But if implemented, it still might not get me interested in print. It would be a better option over what has existed, in my opinion.

Some things to ponder.

  • use a different print format, such as tabloid or zine
  • print one to three days per week
  • ignore breaking news and time-sensitive stories, such as auto accidents and sports scores
  • focus more on long-form, investigative, and analysis articles that are still useful months or even years later
  • switch to a non-profit business model that might rely on subscribers, donations, and grants
  • drop all digital products except for the website
  • for paying customers, offer a website that's similar to text.npr.org but enhanced slightly
  • eliminate ads on the website for paying customers
  • fix/improve the RSS/Atom feed offerings
  • get the journalists off Twitter and onto their own personal websites that use their own domain names
  • The Blade and its journalists should embrace the open internet and eschew the silos
  • use email for comments on stories or don't accept comments
  • add podcasts
  • add email newsletters
  • learn how to use text. jeesh.

Text should come naturally to newspapers, but the Blade proves that given enough time, a newspaper can ruin text.

And the PG is not shutting down. It's going digital-only, which is how I have been reading the news for nearly 20 years. It's not a new thing.

Podcasts are not new. Email newsletters are not new. Digital-only is not new.


In one of my February 2020 posts that discussed the media, I made more suggestions that overlap some with the above.

My suggestions:

  • journalists and media org sever all ties and usage with social media and other big tech silos and focus on their own personal and organizational domain names. journalists can post on their own personal websites. journalists can offer email newsletter subscriptions if they desire. journalists can promote the usage of feeds and feed readers. ditto for media orgs. obviously, podcasting is another content medium, but the focus should be on their own domain names.

  • media orgs should greatly reduce or eliminate their obsession with "breaking news," which is synonymous with incorrect information. media orgs and journalists should promote a Slow News Movement and a Slow Web Movement that encourages READERS and SUBSCRIBERS to focus on the media orgs' and journalists' domain names and consume less content but, hopefully, better quality content. the media should focus on creating content that informs the citizenry, instead of creating content that satisfies metrics.

  • media orgs should adopt funding models that are either 100 percent hard paywall or adopt a non-profit funding model, similar to public radio where all of the content is available for free with no ads, but the orgs are funded by a small percentage of donors. can that work locally? it might for a small, digital media startup.

  • the media orgs' atrocious websites should be rebuilt from scratch with no modern web design horsecrap. the media should focus on delivering their content in a humane manner by using a fast, lightweight, simple web design. the media, especially newspaper-type orgs, should realize that most of their content is text. the media's new web design for INFORMING people should draw inspiration from https://text.npr.org plus http://motherfuckingwebsite.com plus https://bestmotherfucking.website. readers can also use the browsers' readability options if available.

Four things. Simple? To me, they're simple. But which suggestions are realistic or easiest for the media, such as the Toledo Blade, to implement?

None. At least none for an existing media company. A startup, built from scratch, could adopt the above concepts.

Journalists will not end their addiction and unhealthy obsession with using Twitter, which is a machine for misinformation and hate.

Media orgs will not end their reliance on referral traffic from social media silos and search engines.

Media orgs and journalists love breaking news (sharing incorrect information).

Will our local newspaper https://toledoblade.com drastically change its business model and offer a humane web experience? Of course not. It's better, apparently, for the newspaper to fade away slowly than it is to make a worthwhile attempt at improving.


[1] Update: Mon, Mar 9, 2020

I posted the following link last month.

https://my.toledoblade.com/purchase/digital-plus

Now that link redirects to:

https://my.toledoblade.com/purchase

For the "E-DELIVERY + PRINT" subscription option, the description now states:

Get e-delivery, plus Wednesday, Thursday, & Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products.

$4.50 / Week

Last month, the description said:

E-delivery + Thursday and Sunday

Get e-delivery, plus Thursday and Sunday home delivery of the print edition. E-delivery gives you unlimited access to all of our digital products. $4.50 / week

I wonder what changed. Regardless, over the past year, the Blade reduced its print product from seven days to three.

That's interesting phrasing: "accelerates push into e-delivery".

Yeah, right.

Why not end ALL printing now or even a year ago? That would be accelerating even faster. I don't understand this multi-year, gradual elimination of the print product if digital products are so great. This does not make business sense, but then again, business sense and the newspaper industry don't mix,

BTW, webpagetest.org results for the Mar 8, 2020 Blade article that's excerpted below:

From: Dulles, VA - Chrome - Cable
3/9/2020, 4:58:15 PM
First View Fully Loaded:
Download time: 12.133 seconds
Web requests: 427
Bytes downloaded: 2,974 KB

3 megabytes downloaded to read a simple, text-based article that may or may not contain a stock image. !?!?!?

It's TEXT. I don't understand how NEWSPAPERS fail at displaying text on the web. And we are suppose to support this?

427 web requests to read a medium-sized text article. How is this not a potential security and privacy concern?

1.27 megabytes of the download were for JavaScript. That's disgusting for what should be a Web of Documents website that does not need JavaScript.

The Blade website is blank when JavaScript is disabled, but I have figured out how to read the Blade MY WAY with my own Blade web reading app. I approve of this behavior because I'm a digital subscriber to the Blade, and I do not share my Blade web reading app/site with anyone.

My server-side web app dynamically creates Blade article pages that require no client-side JavaScript to read. No ads exist, and only a small amount of CSS is used to produce a humane reading experience. My version of Blade articles SHOULD be the reading experience that's presented to subscribers.

From the Mar 8, 2020 Blade article:

The Blade, which has a rich history of publishing, will move further into the digital publishing era by dropping two more days of its printed newspaper in favor of e-delivery.

Beginning this week, printing and delivery of a printed paper will end on Fridays and Saturdays, said Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications, Inc., the parent company of The Blade. The move will result in the newspaper publishing a print edition on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, after the paper in February, 2019, ceased print publications on Monday and Tuesday.

“Print is old-fashioned delivery. It’s an approach suitable for text and picture information. But it is going away and it’s probably going to go away very fast,” said Mr. Block, whose company owns both The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The chairman said readers should not mourn the loss of printed editions.

The newspaper continues to produce the eBlade, which is a complete daily digital broadsheet newspaper available seven days a week. Blade news reports also are available on toledoblade.com and via The Blade NewsSlide app.

But the Blade's website is unusable. It's a potential security and privacy nightmare. I don't trust apps produced by media orgs, since their websites are polluted with trackers.

The eBlade, which is a PDF file, is the only usable digital product, but I don't use it. I tried it a moment ago, and my laptop's fan started whirring. The eBlade is a 15 megabyte download, and all of it displays, since it's basically a mirror of the printed product, and it makes my laptop's CPU get upset. This is crap. Apparently, the Blade does not understand web technology and the idea of lightweight web pages linking to other lightweight web pages.

“The eBlade edition is better than print. It delivers to your iPad or Android tablet easily. It navigates better,” Mr. Block said. “It’s not geographically restricted, that is, you can go anywhere [out of The Blade’s circulation area] and still receive it.”

Uhhh, the website COULD function better than the eBlade app. The website COULD function well on desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, and other devices that support a web browser, provided that article pages that consist mainly of text were designed in a humane, lightweight, usable manner instead of being designed with modern web design concepts that create hostile reading experiences.

The Blade is a Web of Documents website. No mobile app and no PDF file should be able to outperform the Blade's website for usability and accessibility. Unfortunately, the Blade uses a web design that disregards informing people.

Also, Mr. Block said, getting the news digitally is better for the environment.

But the Blade's website is designed to be environmentally-unfriendly.

http://sawv.org/2018/07/12/ecofriendly-web-design.html

http://sawv.org/2019/06/06/links-about-a-solar-powered-website.html

More from the Blade article about reducing print production:

“It’s green. It doesn’t involve carbon emissions. It doesn’t waste paper. It doesn’t use ink. It’s totally green,” he said. “We also have NewsSlide, which is a different way to deliver the news. It represents a new media that combines print, video, graphics, and the Internet.

“At the end of the day, I don’t apologize for killing a day of print where there isn’t enough advertising revenue to pay for it anymore. I didn’t cause the demise of print. It’s a fact of the business environment we now face,” he said.

But, “The good news is we are a leader in delivery of news using the new digital formats. I don’t think anyone has better delivery than us,” the chairman said.

Whoa! What criteria was used to give the Blade that ranking? If the Blade has the best digital products, then bye bye media, especially local newspapers. I guess that it's time to join the masses and embrace Facebook as my overlord.

“On the days we don’t print, if you own one of the modern printers you can print a very good example of the printed paper. For $150, you can buy a printer and you can print a beautiful print version. You can still have your printed paper,” Mr. Block said.

Funny.

“But you should use an iPad. You get the full experience with an iPad. If someone says the paper doesn’t exist on those days we don’t print, that’s wrong. We do. We exist digitally,” he added.

That statement supports my belief that today's local newspapers will not be a part of the future local digital media landscape. That's technological stupidity.

I should buy an iPad? That's what the owner of the Blade suggests. What the hell. I use an old iPhone and a new Linux-based laptop. I don't need a tablet for any reason.

The buy an iPad statement proves how clueless Block is about the web and designing humane web pages that work in all web browsers, across all devices.

Mr. Block said eventually all newspapers are going to be distributed by e-delivery seven days a week.

Nooo. Eventually ALL LOCAL newspapers will cease to exist because the newspapers are rooted in archaic thinking.

“Print is going away but we have something better, and therefore we offer no apology,” he said. “We urge people to buy a tablet and give us a try,” he added.

Block suggested an iPad, which costs hundreds of dollars. That's the newspaper owner's solution. Buy another plastic gadget that requires electricity to be charged. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Allan Block offered nothing that suggests a positive future for the Blade.

If the Blade wanted people to download and use a native mobile app, then maybe the Blade should have designed the app to function similar to the popular social media silo apps in terms of how content displays, etc.

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