Friday, December 9, 2011

The Ostrich: going “paper”- less

It’s been some time since we’ve had anything worthy of note to report about The Ostrich, or as it’s known locally, The Brunswick Bleep Bleep.

We’ve commented on their efforts in a number of posts over the years, and for those of you so inclined, you can catch up by going here.  The number of items may seem overwhelming, but their history is lengthy, and it takes this kind of coverage to document how much they’ve meant to us in recent years.

Beyond their editorial bias, and their self-important conceit as ‘government watchdogs,’ we’ve been most interested in their failure to pay their ‘fair share’ in the form of assessed property taxes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We can only imagine what the consequences would be if we didn’t pay our property taxes on time, and we don’t intend to find out. We suppose that makes us wimpy suckers, at least compared to the owners of The Ostrich, who have continued to operate as the self-appointed conscience of the community, while being tens of thousands of dollars in arrears on their obligations. (We’ll research the latest figures, and report them when we get them.)

We should expect such forbearance from town officials for the local elites, of whom the Bleep Bleep is a charter member. The Bleep Bleep could slam the officials in print in a Brunswick minute if they were not given wide latitude in tax matters. 

Gotcha scoring favors the Bleep Bleep, especially since the town already owns one vacated newspaper facility. Owning two might set a world record, not to mention heaping shame on those involved.

We don’t need to remind you that we asked the Bleep Bleep to continue to deliver our paper on a daily basis, even though we had not renewed our subscription,  as a quid pro quo for us paying our property taxes on time and carrying them in their delinquency status. 

We could gloat and be petty about this.  As juvenile as such behavior would be, it is more than warranted in this case, so we’ll go with it.

Now the news.  It turns out that The Ostrich has decided to go with an on-line emphasis.  A few years back, they redesigned their web site to eliminate the most useful feature it had at that time: a several year deep archive feature, which made researching their coverage on local issues fairly convenient.  They ‘modernized’ by changing the archive feature to a two week history.

When they did, they kept the print edition pretty much as it was up to that time.  While we could no longer use their web site for any useful research purposes, we occasionally visited to see what their view of important local events was.  We could do this in a minute or two, given the shallowness of their coverage; but we could do it at no cost.

Well, friends and enemies, those days are coming to an end.  Today, The Ostrich announced that the on-line version of the Bleep Bleep will cost $89.95 a year to read, only slightly less than what they used to charge for a print subscription.  The good news is that the web version will be complete with advertisements,etc.  Good move on their part; consumers have been flocking to the web to pay for content, especially advertisements.

Why didn’t we think of that?

In their own words, here’s what your ninety bucks a year will buy:

The new design will expand options for readers and advertisers by providing all of the content from each day’s newspaper online — in a format easily accessible on home computers, mobile devices and tablets.
Every story, photo, advertisement, news brief, column, comic and feature that now appears in print will be available online daily, effective Dec. 15. Honor rolls, police logs and other items that previously only appeared in print — and which readers asked us to post online — will be fully available on the upgraded website.

We wish them the same success they’ve had recently with their print version.  We‘re confident they wish the same for us.

Our advice to you, just like it was some months ago, is that should you choose to sign up for the service, don’t pay for a year in advance.  Since they don’t pay their taxes on time, there’s no reason they should have your cold hard cash in advance.

And don’t believe the rumors that John Corzine reportedly contacted the Bleep Bleep to see if they are for sale.  Even he is bright enough, if not honest enough, to know their future is as solid as a snowflake’s.

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