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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Davis Enterprise Anti-Environmental Policies

I write this in part based on Matt Rexroad's blog entry from yesterday, but frankly I have had similar thoughts lately. There was a time, I would wake up and read newspapers first thing in the morning. But that was really before the advent of the internet and the ability of newspapers to put their content online--much of the time for free. Now if the newspaper is not on the internet, I will not likely read it.

Most newspapers have most of their content available for free on the internet. However, the Davis Enterprise is an exception, though their policy has varied over the two and a half years I have read it. At one point, only the front page articles were available on their website. Then all of their content was posted on the website. Now they have all of the content on the website but it is protected by password and available to those who subscribe.

So I have subscribed to the Davis Enterprise because given what I do on a daily basis, I need to know what is going on in the community--or at least what the local papers--Davis Enterprise, Sacramento Bee, and Woodland Daily Democrat are covering. However, what happens in my household is that I usually read the content online before the paper is delivered and we have a neat stack (sometimes less than neat) of unopened Davis Enterprises that end up going directly into the recycle bin.

Apparently I am not the only one with that problem. Supervisor Matt Rexroad had a similar problem and actually called the paper to see about changing things.
"So I was looking around my house the other day for ways to simplify things.

One thing I noticed is that I subscribe to the Davis Enterprise at home. However, I read it on-line most of the time so I never actually open it when it arrives at my door.

That was an idea. I will tell the Enterprise that they did not need to waste the paper or the effort to get me the paper. Then I would not have to recycle it. They would save time and effort. Life would be great."
Sounded like a good plan to me. In fact, I have been thinking about doing the same thing. Unfortunately that is not how the Davis Enterprise works.
[Mrs. Rexroad] called to tell them to stop delivering even though we would still pay the bill -- I want the on-line access to the news. They told us they could not do that because of the advertising rates were dependent upon it.
Are you kidding me? Somehow the rest of the newspapers in the world are able to manage. But there are multiple points of illogic going on here.

First, they are not actually opening the paper, so in a way, the Davis Enterprise's advertising are not reaping the benefit of the subscription anyway. In fact, by keeping a newspaper delivery where the subscribers do not open the paper, the advertisers are getting a false impression of the coverage of the paper. I wonder how many other people end up doing similar things.

Second, this is Davis. We are supposed to be the environmental model for the rest region if not the state. Yet our newspaper is engaging in unnecessarily wasteful practices by requiring people to use paper when they would prefer to still pay for the service but still have to waste paper.

I use very little paper--or at least as little as I can afford. I get most of my bills online. I read articles and the like directly on the computer screen and I rarely print things out. So it bothers me that I am wasting paper because of a newspaper's policies.

Frankly if I did not blog everyday on Davis and Yolo County events, I probably would not take the Davis Enterprise anyway, but given that I do, I do not feel I have a luxury that many have taken of canceling their subscription.

Papers everywhere are facing difficult times and part of it is because they have not adapted to the new medium. The Davis Enterprise has created blogs on their site that are largely unused and rarely usable. They could do so much more with even their modest resources to create a much better and more innovative product on their website. Some have complained about the McNaughtons in this capacity and suggested that there is a lot they would like to do if they were not being held back.

This is just a single example of where they can improve. I hope that environmentally conscious-Davisites will be concerned about this very simple and very wasteful policy by their local newspaper.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting