Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is the Daily Advocate a sinking ship?

On February 7, the Daily Advocate ran a front page article under the headline "Is Greenville School District a sinking ship?" The headline was met with disgust from many in the community, including a man named Joe Payne, who wrote a letter-to-the-editor criticizing the Advocate for (among other things) creating "lasting negative public relations that extend far beyond the boundaries of his community."

Since that ill-advised headline, the Advocate has headed in two separate directions: its public position is to defend the headline as merely asking a question; but its editorial position has been (in my opinion) to rehabilitate itself with the school district.

As to the rehabilitation, it seems obvious that the Advocate incurred some serious wrath from the community. Just two regular editions later, a front page story gave the school district a forum to respond to the "sinking ship" headline. Then the aforementioned letter from Joe Payne appeared not just once, but twice (on 2/14 and 2/18). Other articles have appeared as well, from at least one board member and one administrator.

Most amusingly, in a February 13 article, editor Bob Robinson noted that "[o]ur mandate to inform the public does not allow us to be a 'drum major' for any entity, including Greenville Schools." But just a few editions later, on February 19, the Advocate sported a top-of-the-fold large-font headline reading "High Five for GSD!" Do you think the Advocate might have taken some heat between February 13 and February 19?

Despite the recent friendly treatment, the Advocate's public position is still that the "sinking ship" headline was fair. In the same editorial mentioned above, Robinson defended his controversial headline by claiming that "[w]e weren't being negative. We were asking a question. Questions aren't positive or negative. Questions are just that ... questions."

Well, if that's the case, then I have a few questions for the Daily Advocate, such as: Are you, the Daily Advocate, a sinking ship? (Keep in mind, I'm not actually saying the Advocate is a sinking ship, I'm just asking a question).

On January 15, the Daily Advocate announced the launch of "advocate 360," describing the new venture as "an aggressive approach to meet the demands of a new generation of readers." Oh - and by the way - the paper was also eliminating print editions every Monday and Tuesday.

Two days later, the Advocate's publisher wrote a Q & A on the new format, explaining that advertisers "have been using Monday and Tuesday less frequently for years, and making it increasingly difficult for newspapers to produce them." Nevertheless, the publisher (in the same article) wrote that "we should have had the courage to head in this direction some time ago."

About two weeks after that, news broke that three other area Brown Publishing newspapers (The Troy Daily News, Piqua Daily Call, and The Sidney Daily News) all decided to cut their Tuesday editions.

So wait a minute ... the other three newspapers cut Tuesdays, but the Daily Advocate cut Mondays and Tuesdays. Could it be that the Daily Advocate is performing even worse than these other struggling newspapers?

And just today the Advocate reported the news that editor Bob Robinson is retiring. Isn't that incredibly coincidental?

So let's consider this sequence of events. The Advocate is struggling with ad revenue. It cuts two days of its print editions (double the amount of three other area papers). A controversial headline runs in the paper and appears to cause some degree of public backlash. And then suddenly the editor retires. Or did the editor really retire? After all, the Advocate put its best possible spin on the advocate 360 venture.

Could Robinson's retirement be a simple cost cutting measure?

Could this be one of those "retire or else" scenarios?

Could this retirement have something to do with the "sinking ship" headline?

Or could there be some other cause, such as the words "Buchy" and "Advocate" being misspelled on the front page of recent editions? (see 2/14 and 2/19)

But while I'm at it, it's mystifying that the Advocate would run such a provocative headline about the school district when many of its remaining advertisers (banks, realtors, professionals) have been public supporters of the school district in the past. Seriously, does somebody at the Advocate hate the Greenville School District? Is there somebody at the newspaper who would want to hurt future levies, for example?

Again, just questions. Remember, not negative or positive ... just questions.


  1. Very interesting. We need to support our schools. They hold the keys to our future. The Advocate needs this wake up call. Good for you!

  2. this is exactly what is wrong with this country. too many ppl divided and not enough unity and partnership. y do you continue to slam a paper that has been in this county longer than you? 'just a question'

  3. the economy is a very scary subject right now. i am more concerned with my child's future than attacking and investigating a news publication agency. i want her to have all the opportunities that she deserves. a news story has no bearing on that, that would be up to our carefree government.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Oh, there goes [---] again calling for UNITY while she stabs others in the back!
    If we are 200 years old, then can we critisize the Advocate? What a moron !

    And if the economy is bad then---horrors! We can't mention any other problems---What a moron !


    [A reference to a specific person was deleted by the website administrator.]

  6. moron huh? ur a hate blogger as well as a liberal hack. ur poor children..:(


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