Everybody's a Critic

Speaking of Newspapers

A nice piece in the Houston Chronicle on seed catalogs, in which she interviews both George Ball of Burpee and Jere Gettle of Baker Creek.  Check it out here

And now for this distressing news: according to its own news report, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be sold or shut down in 60 days. Those of you who don’t get to Seattle much may not realize what a remarkable thing it is that the city has two lively daily newspapers–and that BOTH of them have great garden coverage.  At the Seattle P-I we have:

Marty Wingate
writing her weekly ‘Grounded Gardener’ column
Marianne Binetti taking weekly Q&As
Ann Lovejoy’s weekly ‘Green Gardening’ column on organics
Master gardener Chris Smith on edibles
Beloved fun guy Ciscoe Morris on a little bit of everything.

Plus features, plant of the week, plenty of stuff online, and so on.

THEN, over at the Seattle Times, we’ve got Valerie Easton, supplemented by various McClatchy and AP stories, and probably lots of other stuff I don’t even know about from this distance.

But look at the Seattle P-I’s roster.  That’s five garden columnists in one newspaper, every week! 

If any Friends of Rant in Seattle have insight into what’s going to shake out in terms of garden coverage, drop us a line.

Posted by on January 12, 2009 at 10:13 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.
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14 Responses to “Speaking of Newspapers”

  1. Colleen says:

    That stinks. It is definitely not a good time to be in the newspaper business. Here, the Detroit Free Press cut its gardening coverage over the summer when it bought out longtime columnist Marty Hair. A couple of weeks ago, both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press announced that they will no longer do daily home deliveries. Instead, we will get a paper three days a week. We can read online the other days, or buy a kind of “basic” version of the paper on the news stand.

    We still have gardening coverage in the Detroit News, with Nancy Szerlag and Jeff Ball. I hope they’ll both be sticking around!

  2. gardenmentor says:

    I’ve been following some buzz that the PI may become an online-only enterprise. There’s more here posted by former PI tech writers naming a few tech people they hope/believe could save the online PI enterprise: http://www.techflash.com/venture/Ten_techies_who_could_save_Seattlepicom37425074.html

    Should the PI go away, it will be a sad, sad day for Seattle gardeners such as myself.

  3. As the unemployed home/garden columnist for one of the most Progressive newspapers in the U.S., I can only say it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Until last spring, this was a town with two daily newspapers and two college dailies — the only place in the country that could make that claim.

    Now we have one shrinking daily and the other paper (my paper) is mainly on-line with two tabloid products per week. They kept me on as a freelancer garden writer till Jan. 1. I can survive without my job. It’s life without my newspaper that is difficult.

    I used to think there was a way out of this morass if we just worked smarter or harder. I no longer think that’s the issue. People get all their info in a different way and are just as happy (perhaps happier) being part of virtual communities rather than their local community.

    As a garden blogger, I love this virtual world but I want my local world in print, in my hand, every day and that prospect seems to be gone forever. If gardening didn’t bring in the income in print, can it do so on-line? Very few folks have figured out how to make the virtual world pay them a wage they can live on.

    I’m not angry but I am sad; and I find it hard to watch the demise of these publications — whether it’s House & Garden or the P-I.

  4. eliz says:

    I would say that Seattle is lucky to have kept its second newspaper this long.

  5. Mad Tomatl says:

    Radio did some damage to newspapers. Television did more damage to newspapers. And now all the latest wireless media and the Internet have done even more damage. Evening newspapers died years ago, and we didn’t miss them so much. Morning newspapers are anorexic, as are our news magazines. What’ll survive? Perhaps some “national” dailies — without “national” gardening columns. Perhaps some big-city Sunday weeklies that weigh in as blockbusters — or backbusters. Maybe we’ll end up with European-style newspapers — thin, nearly ad-free, daily, at $3 to $5 a copy. And we’ll have more focused community newspapers — usually weeklies — with local gardening columns if we’re lucky. And we’ll have Internet newspapers. And we’ll have Garden Rant with its ever-growing list of/links to blogs — including at least one listing garden blogs — where we can find gardening news and opinion to our liking — more than 100 at last count. The king is dead. Long live the king.

  6. commonweeder says:

    At my age, I have to say I am devoted to the printed word on paper, newspapers, magazines and books. On the other hand I love the garden blogs, and enjoy publishing my own blog in addition to continuing to write my weekly garden column. I know a younger generation relies more and more on on-line news and recreation so I am hoping that while we seem to be in a transition period, we will come out on the other side with readers demanding the same content, thus keeping garden writers on the job – and getting paid. I am hoping.

  7. What a sad day to lose another newspaper. I love reading news online, but there is nothing like browsing through the pages of the paper, traipsing across the world and through different subjects selected by smart editors because they were important.

    Robin Wedewer
    National Gardening Examiner

  8. Jan says:

    I live 180 south of Chicago. For years we received the Chicago Tribune same day in the mail. Now the closest I can buy it is 20 miles away. I get a copy Monday, Wednesday and Fridays when I’m at a town for aerobics class and groceries. They just started printing on line (the full paper as it appears in print) and that is how I read it the rest of the time – very unsatisfying but doable.

    The home and garden section is now 85% home and 15% garden and is only in the Sunday edition. This is a city with a fantastic Botanical Garden and the fabulous Morton Arboretum in the west suburbs.

  9. trey says:

    I do have vision of what garden reporting will look like in the future, and it includes a collaborative effort bringing together local garden centers, garden blogger’s, and other interested groups. My post is here.
    http://thegoldengecko.com/blog/?p=702

  10. Tibs says:

    My small town paper reports very little on national news and world news even less, hey we can get that on tv and internet. The garden section has always been practically nonexistent. My main gripe is they are shrinking the comics and reducing the number to save $. I even started reading the sport section because they had “In the Bleachers.” It disapeared a few weeks ago. Now I skip the sport section. I started reading the editorial page as a kid because of the political cartoon. If the comics are removed I will no longer subscribe to the paper. I refuse to read USA Today because it has NO Comics section. How can it even call itself a newspaper?

  11. Lisa Albert says:

    Mad Tomatl, our local community papers are also taking a hit. I’m not so sure they’ll survive any better than the bigger papers. I’m sorry to see this happen. Yes, we’ll still get national news on-line but will we get local? It will be hit or miss and that’s not a good thing, IMO. We need to know what’s going on in our backyards. Or else we might as well bury our heads in the sand and be done with it.

    Tibs, I’m with you on the importance of the comics page! It’s the first thing I read every morning. Humor is the best way to start the day.

    I am really sorry to see what is happening with the Seattle P-I. I’m sure there are many holding their breath to see what’s next. I sure picked a heck of a time to be a garden writer.

  12. Nikki Smith says:

    Hey, I just read a release that said a well planned garden can produce a 1-to-25 cost savings ratio, meaning if you spend $50 on seeds and fertilizers it’s possible to yield $1,250 in produce.

    The study was conducted by Burpee.

    http://www.whgmag.com/501-show-me-the-money-garden

  13. It just get down to buggy whips. Do we still make them make them if we replaced the horse with a horseless carriage?

  14. A belated thanks for the good words about our garden section in the P-I, and what seems like the demise of the paper. It’s like the world is spinning around and I’m waiting for something to come into focus. So, I’ve picked up my blogging pen again (must find a better analogy) and we’ll see what happens. This just in (seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/397889_NEWS29.html) – a Seattle city councilman wants the city to buy the P-I and make it a nonprofit! But will it still have a garden section?
    Tibs – I’m with you; will I have to read Mutts online?

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