J-educator re-subscribes to newspaper, gets scolded by columnist for dropping it

Hartford Courant
Frank Harris III recently re-subscribed to the New Haven Register after reading it online and occasionally picking up a newsstand copy for more than a year. “Yes, there is something about reading it in the morning in bed or at my kitchen table with toast and oatmeal and milk or grape juice and eggs, or reading it outside on my deck or on the front steps with the sun shining on my head,” writes the Southern Connecticut State University journalism department chairman. His piece rubbed Courant columnist Rick Green the wrong way:

I’m glad you know how to read the news for free online, Frank. But a journalism department chairman who can’t be bothered to actually subscribe to a daily newspaper? How do you think your students might one day actually get paid for their work? Another sign of the times, I suppose..

I asked Harris what he thought about the “scolding” from Green. His response to the columnist:

You have cast the first stone. But you too have sinned. Your blog, for instance: By posting online, are you not contributing to the demise of print? Are you not contributing to journalistic sin? Welcome to journalism hell, Rick.

More after the jump.

Forgive me, Rick, for I have sinned. I, a journalism chair preparing future journalists for the new news media landscape, had stopped subscribing to my local newspaper and was reading various news publications online.

Picking up the paper periodically from the local deli shop or the guy trying to make an honest buck by selling the paper in front of the gas station, was not enough. I should have subscribed.

God help me.

So says the apostle to the journalism Gods, Rick Green, Hartford columnist in today’s blog.

I will burn in journalism hell, no doubt, fueled by the very paper newspapers that I had failed to subscribe to.

Ah, if only I had kept my lips sealed. Instead, in my Hartford Courant column – it should be noted that the local newspaper for the town in which I live is not the Hartford Courant, as I live in the New Haven area – I noted the obvious: More readers are getting their news and information from other than the traditional newspaper. That is why the newspapers continuously offer more ways to link to computers, phones, Ipads, nooks, Kindles.

Heck, if the Dick Tracy wristwatch were around, they’d be linking to that too.

In any case, I re-subscribed, Rick. Ah, but that year or so in the wilderness when I was not a subscriber — .

OK. If I truly deprived my journalism students or anybody else’s journalism students of future jobs by my not subscribing over that period of time, please forgive me, for I have truly sinned.

But apostle Rick, please note that at Southern Connecticut State University we are preparing our students to be multimedia journalists. That is, they will enter the news media landscape prepared not solely to write for traditional newspapers or broadcast, but also online publications, television, radio whatever else comes along. They, in fact, will be able to provide a full package of news via text, video, audio, still photos and graphics for any vehicle.

In any case, the question is not necessarily how we get the news – but that we get news. Sure, I would love for folks to pick up the actual copy of the newspaper. But over the years, more and more people are not. Will the newspaper as we know it be around? I hope so.

If it’s not, I hope it’s not written that it is because of that devil-of-a-journalism chair/columnist Frank Harris III back in the year 2011.

Ah, Rick. You have cast the first stone. But you too have sinned. Your blog, for instance: By posting online, are you not contributing to the demise of print? Are you not contributing to journalistic sin?
Welcome to journalism hell, Rick.

Maybe together we can start a newspaper there. Call it the Hellacious Times. You and I can have a heated debate on paper vs. online, though it would be a neat trick. At what degree does paper burn?

In hell we might have to go online – joined by all who are reading this online instead of paper.


Rick Green sends his response:

I get two papers on my doorstep every morning. I’m on my blog before 7 a.m. I write an old-school column three days a week. I post on my blog and Twitter 7-days a a week, all day.

I read news online all day, every day.

And you know what? I still find time to actually pay for the news I read.

[This post was modified to note that Harris resubscribed to the New Haven Register, not the Hartford Courant.]

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  • Dave Royse

    If the Hartford Courant and other newspapers would figure out the obvious – that most people at some point are going to read news somewhere besides on a dead tree platform – and figure out ways to charge for the content, then Rick wouldn’t have to get a paper delivered just so he could absolve himself of his guilt by “finding time” to pay for the news he reads. Consumers of news would pay for it – but organizations like the Courant give it away for free online – why would any rational person pay for it when they can get it for free?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, Twitter is what powers TV news. That’s why their top five stories every night, in just about every market, were developed first by newspapers. Maybe DLDarcy follows lots of newspaper tweeters.

  • Anonymous

    That was nice of Frank to acknowledge what Rick said but he shouldn’t have. Rick clearly can’t handle change and was being passive aggressive and immature. Rick, I don’t know anyone my age that subscribes to a daily newspaper. I’m a TV journo and I get my breaking news now through Twitter. That drives the older reporters at my station batty. They’re still trying to learn how to use FB. Keep rolling or get run over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Levy/1332321421 Marc Levy

    Rick Green should take a deep breath before columnizing.  All Frank Harris III did, as a consumer and educator, was experience the news the same way as anyone else, including his students, and learn something from the experience.

    What he learned brought him back to the Courant, and he can now share that experience with others. (As he is, in fact.)

  • Anonymous

    Excuse me, Rick, but the man’s title doesn’t have “newspaper” in it, it’s “journalism.”

    Perhaps if he’d found a compelling reason to subscribe non-stop, he would have. But to beat him over the head for not subscribing? That’s insane. Why don’t you instead put out a good product that people will want to read? 

    Or is that asking too much?

    The fact is, newspapers have no God-given right to deserve subscribers. You’ve got to earn them.