Still, doing without that habitual daily fix of mostly junk news plopped on the driveway is tough. And so, this past Saturday afternoon, I went off in quest of The Sunday Sun, despite my husband's protests that "It's a waste of money—there's nothing in it worth reading."
In the local Barnes & Noble consignment emporium, I found one remaining copy of the early edition of the paper, dated Sunday, June 17. I almost didn't recognize it, because its front page looked like a full page color advertisement. And indeed, in a way it was—it was nearly totally covered by a lurid-looking story called "Coupons keep luring customers; businesses learn lesson the hard way."
What a pitiful fall from grace for a newspaper that was formerly one of the nation's foremost dailies! The lengthy story is a total no-brainer--of course people clip coupons to save money. Duh! So why run such a story so prominently?
Well, first off, it gave the newspaper the chance to mention one of its primary advertisers—Macy's—not once, not twice, but ten times. Giant, a longtime stalwart advertiser, got two mentions. Other favored retailers were mentioned once apiece. The 'news hook': people want coupons. The subtext: 'Hey, you advertisers, you need to offer coupons. And guess what—people expect their coupons to be on paper, so remember how important The Sun can be in your marketing plans." The story doesn't mention that the Sunday Sun is a primary source of coupons, especially in the two pounds of advertising circulars encased in the 'news' wrapper. Guess that would have been too obvious.
This peculiar "news" story was relegated to the business section in the later edition that appeared the following morning; but for 24 hours, the big news for Baltimoreans was that businesses that cut back on offering coupons do so at their peril.
One might also say that newspapers that cut back on offering news do so at their peril.
What a waste of trees.