Good-bye daily newspaper

Dear Philadelphia Inquirer:

It is with great regret that I must tell you of my intention to finally cancel my subscription to your newspaper, both weekly and Sunday. My wife and I came to this decision after your recent move to essentially decimate your comics pages, shunting several of our favorite comics to your web site. We do not want to read our comics in two different places.

And just so that you don’t think us as a shallow comics fanatics, you should know that we have read and subcribed to newspapers, yours and others, for the past forty years. Through adolescence, college, my formative professional years, and as a family man and homeowner, I had always considered a day started without reading a newspaper as essentially incomplete, and my newspaper reading experience invariably began with the reading of the comics pages.

Granted, I would never assert that a quality newpaper experience requires a comics page. The continued success of the New York Times stands as testament to that. However, I love reading the comics. If I lived in New York, I would likely subscribe to another paper just for the comics.

The Inquirer, however, had both. Good news coverage, interesting features, and a well-rounded comics page. Comics eases me into the reality that is our world.

When I first moved to this area in 2002, however, the Inquirer also had a more substantial local news section, a Sunday magazine, a better entertainment section, and a lot more. Since then, and like most of the formerly great newspapers facing a new media onslaught, the management of the Inquirer opted to save money rather than to add value. It did almost nothing to market its natural advantages.

Despite my misgivings and disappointments, I continued my subscription despite your sustained efforts to strip the newspaper reading experience of value, killing columns, sections, the Inquirer magazine, the Sunday comics, and now finally, the daily comics.

You will find no greater fan of the daily newspaper than me, but the inevitable has finally arrived, and I can no longer in good conscience continue to pay you my hard earned money for a product of ever-decreasing quality.

Up until the 1990s, the newspaper industry enjoyed upwards of 40% profit margins. What you did with all that money remains a mystery to me, but obviously none of it went to mastering the new media landscape or by increasing value into the once-great product that was my daily newspaper. If the automobile industry followed your lead and adopted your current business model, we’d all be driving around in rickety Model Ts again and paying four times the current price for the priviledge.

I and my family will now take the hint. You don’t want us. We get it. We’ll move on. We’ll get all our information from other sources. Maybe we’ll drop in on your website from time to time.

To all the reporters and staff of the Inquirer, and especially to Karen Heller, my wife and I thank you for all you’ve done. I sincerely hope that you somehow manage to find prosperity for yourselves in spite of your employer’s idiotic and shortsighted decisions.

Most sincerely,

Randy Garbin
Louise Garbin