Saving Out-of-Town News

Chatterbox just caught up with a Boston Globe article containing the distressing news that Out-of-Town News, the famous Harvard Square newsstand, is losing business to the Internet. (Click here to read Computernewsdaily’s reprint of the Globe piece, by Jordana Hart; Chatterbox found the article while cruising Jim Romenesko’s According to the Globe piece, the appeal of paying “up to $9.95 for the Sydney Morning Herald” isn’t what it was before the Sydney Morning Herald (and just about every other hard-to-get foreign newspaper) was available, gratis, online. Five years ago, Out-of-Town News sold 120 copies of the Sunday Los Angeles Times, or 100 of the Sunday Miami Herald; now it’s down to about 10 and eight, respectively. During the past decade, the newsstand has lost 60 percent of its newspaper retail income.

This makes Chatterbox, whose news addiction was fed by Out-of-Town News at an impressionable age, very sad. (It also makes him feel guilty about the times he purchased a newspaper or magazine from the tartier Nini’s Corner newsstand across the street.) Chatterbox recognizes that it is unquestionably a social good for the world’s newspapers, and electronic publications such as Slate and Salon and the clumsily named, to be available to everyone with a computer–and not just to Cantabridgians and others lucky enough to live within walking distance of the small number of newsstands in this country that sell publications from around the world. Still, Chatterbox hates to think that Out-of-Town News will become some sort of museum of print, a precious relic of a bygone age. (As it is, it’s been a tad museum-like since the early ‘80s, when it relocated to the inside of an antique subway kiosk that fell victim to late-’70s modernization.) With that in mind, Chatterbox invites readers to offer up to the Fray (scroll down to see how) suggestions about what Out-of-Town News should do to stem its losses. Entries mocking the soppy Harvard sentimentality of this exercise, or Chatterbox’s low moral standing (as a cyberjournalist) to be fretting about this problem, are not welcome.