L.A. Observed has reported this morning on L.A. Times editor Dean “Tag It And” Baquet ordering up a hit on the paper’s 2-year-old Outdoors section — one of the few parts of the paper to which I regularly looked forward and sought out each Tuesday. But according to a subscriber survey, for every one of me there were allegedly three other subscribers who never bothered reading it. So my guess is it’s that lovely equation of low readership plus weak ad revenue equaling its cancelation as a cost-cutting move. In administering the coup de grace, Baquet did at least eulogize Outdoors as “one of the most inventive sections in any major newspaper.”
Can’t have that now, can we Dean?
So in a related cost-cutting move, I just got off the phone to cancel my Times subscription for it being pretty much one of the least inventive major newspapers. The process itself was hilarious. The first rep answers, a demure-sounding young lady, who has me verify my name address and phone number before asking how I can be helped. When I tell her I’m put on hold and transferred elsewhere because apparently my desire to cancel my subscription due to the most recent editorial axe to fall is something she’s not either able or qualified to transact. In a few more moments “Ken” answers the phone and asks how he can help me. I repeat my request to cancel (and push the record button on my tape machine for posterity):
Ken: Well I’m sorry to hear that, sir. Is there any particular reason why you no longer want your subscription?
Me: I just read that the editor’s killing the Outdoors section –.
Ken (as if hearing about that part of the paper for the very first time): The Out… Doors section?
Me: One of my favorite sections of the paper. Comes out every Tuesday?
Ken: And, um…
Me: Been around I think since 2003?
Ken: OK sir. Well I do apologize for that. That is part of a bigger plan to resign — redesign! — the [unintelligible] Op-Ed pages of the paper –.
Me: No. Not the Op-Ed section, the Outdoors section. Hiking. Biking. It’s a wonderful section. I’m sad to see it go and I want to cancel my paper.
Ken: Well… we… If you would –. If you would think about… if that was one of the reasons sir… so you weren’t at all interested in just the weekend services. ‘Cause I can still offer those to you for $3 a month, either the Friday Saturday Sunday or just the Sunday.
Me: I’m making a statement here. I don’t like the decision to cancel the Outdoors section and I don’t want the paper anymore.
Ken: OK, one moment.
Ken: And when did you want that canceled. I see you’re paid up through December.
Me: Effective immediately.
[really long silence]
Ken: Hold on one second.
[another really long silence]
Ken: OK the soonest I can get it stopped would be on Thursday, OK?
Ken: It will stop effectively on Thursday. You won’t receive any more papers and with the remaining credit would you like to donate to our Times In Education Fund to help promote literacy in your local schools.
Me (laughing): No.
Ken: OK then I’ll sign it over as a refund.
Ken: OK. Should be back on your credit card within 5 to 10 working business days.
Me: Thank you very much.
Ken: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: Not at all.
Ken: Well then thank you for call –.