Wednesday, August 5, 2015

James Coale, You (Kinda) Owe Some People Some Money

To beat a thoroughly dead horse, I returned from a weekend away yesterday to find an invoice addressed to "James Coale" from the Columbia Flier.  It invited me/James to pay $19, if we were so inclined, but concluded with the assurance that if I did not pay, my free weekly paper would still be delivered as scheduled.

I don't think you'll find a much stronger supporter (financial and otherwise) of local media, but I'm not paying those $19.  And I can't speak for James, but if he's as stubborn as all the other Coales I know, he isn't either.

As indicated by the letter and the posts cited above, this was what can best be described as a "dry run" for when the Flier converts to paid subscriptions.  They want us to know what it will feel like to receive an invoice.  I suppose the greatest merit for this exercise is having readers consider "What is this paper worth to me?"  If it is not worth anything to you, $19 incorporates your drop off.  If it is worth substantially more to you, congratulations, you have a discount weekly paper.  For the rest of us, $19 may be just about right.

Every Thursday morning, I pull my Flier from The Sun (I know some of you receive it separately), read whatever Political Notebook Amanda Yeager has written that week and then flip to the editorial page.  I can normally guess the number and tone of letters based on the hot issues of the week.  Plus, the bi-monthly anachronistic letter urging CA to go in a different direction on Symphony Woods.

More recently, I've discovered that Glenn Foden, the cartoonist for the Flier, "inks from the right" and otherwise spends genius (?) addressing subjects like abortion and "gray lives matter".  In fact, I've never found Flier editorials to meet the stereotype of either Columbia or "liberal media".  They're fairly right-leaning and that's ok.  Sometimes Columbia (and Howard County) needs a splash of cold water.  The only problem is that such pages (and the cartoons that accompany them) carry the weight of authority that may not be due or may not be otherwise accepted if the right-leaning nature of such pieces were plain.

And that makes the "poor jar" letter a little more interesting.  It may be a very "Columbia" thing to do, and many people may pay the $19, but I would presume and expect our more conservative friends at around page 22 of the Flier to skewer the effort.  What kinda capitalistic enterprise are you running here?  What cartoon would best capture the absurdity of paying for something that's free?

We all love you, Flier, but it sure would be interesting to see you be the subject of your own scrutiny.

Have a great Wednesday doing what you love.