Friday, March 03, 2006

I lied...

Yesterday I said there was a lot I wanted to write about, but I didn't have time to cover everything; it was a cheap excuse to get off the computer before the only two television shows that I watch with any regularity began -- My Name is Earl and The Office. Interesting fact about Earl: The show appears to take place in Maryland, as Hagerstown, Cumberland, Frostburg University have frequently been mentioned, though the actual location mentioned is always "Camden County." But enough about TV.

The point of this post and the title is to say that really there wasn't as much to write about as I thought. Sure, there are a bunch of stories in yesterday's Flier, but most of them deal with things we've already covered. For instance:

  • "Accident reporting flawed" is discussed here and here. (Since the news about the misidentified bottle of tanning oil broke last Wednesday past Patuxent Publishing's deadline, their story from last week ran with a reference to the police finding alcohol in the car).
The only story that's actually news is "CA board lowers cap, raises fees." But really, who wants to write about that?

I'm not trying to make the Flier look bad. On the contrary, I think the paper is generally pretty good and it certainly offers the most comprehensive coverage of Howard County issues. I'm pointing this stuff out to try and help them.

The Flier (and the Howard County Times -- sorry, it's my Columbia bias) are always late to the party, and they will be always if they don't bother changing. Being a weekly publication means you're going to get scooped on pretty much everything and therefore it requires you to adapt either by offering more detailed analysis, which the Flier rarely does, or by finding stories that others miss, which the Flier does at least intermittently. But it doesn't have to be this way.

Why must the Flier enslave its writing and publishing schedule to the tyranny of dead trees? They have a website and I'm pretty sure they've got someone who knows how to update it. So, why don't they at least post short, breaking news items as they occur instead of waiting until the next Thursday, by which time the Sun and the Post (and your dedicated Howard County bloggers) have already covered all (okay, most) of the ins and outs? They don't have to post full-length stories, but daily updates would go a long way to regaining the relevancy of these papers.

Maybe the Sun, which is owned by the Tribune Company (which also owns Patuxent Publishing) is worried about a local weekly competing with its daily. But that's bunk. The Post owns The Gazette Newspapers in Carroll, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties and these weekly papers post daily updates on their website, presumably with permission from the parent company.

So, how 'bout it, Patuxent? How about entering the digital age? We're all here and there's still plenty of room.

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