Sudden jumps in sitemeter is usually a sign that the latest post has hit the mark or been linked by a big site. It is relatively unusual for an old story to be the cause, especially when it is from the middle of last year. Virginians though, apparently couldn’t get enough of “Saving newspapers, Cobb & Co, and the whaling industry,” over the last day or so.
That post deals with studies into ways to assist the struggling newspaper industry to avoid ruin caused by a decline in advertising revenue, and less people buying them. Studies however usually conclude that newspapers are vital to the population who don’t buy them and propose rafts of new taxes and government action to save them.
This is probably a contributing factor to the upsurge in the number of people who confuse the Onion with MSNBC.
The interest was sparked by an item in the Sun Gazette on a dispute over local authorities attempting to eliminate the requirement for them to advertise in “newspapers of record:”
The Virginia Press Association beat back two legislative proposals to reduce or eliminate the amount of legal advertising required of local and state governments in Virginia, despite efforts by localities to loosen the grip that newspapers currently have on legal notices. …Newspapers are in their current state because of the rise of new technology and their failure to adapt to it. It is ridiculous to suggest that cash strapped local authorities should increase taxes and charges to the public to continue what is effectively an unnecessary compulsory monopoly granted to a favored section of the media.
Local governments say that with the advent of the Internet and other communications options, localities should not be forced to place legal notices in the print editions of newspapers. Supporters of the status quo say that newspapers remain the most broad-based communications tool available to disseminate such information.
It all boils down to finances, too: Newspapers, which have seen other forms of advertising plummet in recent years, count on legal ads to help pay the bills. Local governments, also facing their own financial problems, are eager to cut costs. …
Destroying their own argument that these notices are vital for the public the article mentions that, “Arlington County government’s legal advertising is placed in the Washington Times, which has a small circulation in the county but also offers rates well below what other newspapers accept.” In other words, the County is meeting its legal obligation by advertising at a better rate in a paper that few locals read. This rule is pointless.