Consolidated Publishing Co. publishes two daily newspapers (and a few weeklies) in Alabama. They have decided that the daily papers, The Anniston Star and The (Talladega) Daily Home, should have identical syndicated content.
For decades, The Anniston Star and The Daily Home have both published a comics page. Over the years, the lineup changes from time to time, depending on cost and availability.
But throughout that time, both papers have had separate contracts for the content on the comics pages.
But it’s worse than one contract for The Star and a separate contract for The Daily Home. On the individual pages, there were separate contracts for different items.
For instance, the horoscopes come from a different service than Dear Abby, and Pickles and Blondie come from a different service than Garfield and Frank & Ernest.
And each newspaper had separate contracts for those different items.
So, in an effort to consolidate those services for Consolidated Publishing, I began working with the different providers to streamline our offerings. That meant ending contracts with some services, while choosing one with whom to negotiate.
This seems to be a growing, if not new, trend. Newspapers are increasingly trying to get deals from syndicates if the comics page goes exclusive with that one syndicate. The newspaper of my youth ran an NEA page – I grew up with Priscilla’s Pop, Our Boarding House, Captain Easy, Winthrop (Morty Meekle), Bugs Bunny, Eek and Meek, and other Newspaper Enterprise Association comic strips.
Consolidated Publishing and the newspapers didn’t get a timely jump on the matter, resulting in The Daily Home temporarily losing its comics page and forcing the editorial explanation:
Unfortunately, several of the contracts were set to renew if they weren’t canceled immediately. That led to having to eliminate the comics page in The Daily Home before a new contract was established. I figured it would raise a brow or two, but that it wouldn’t be a big deal.
I was wrong.
The old saying goes: Don’t take down a fence until you know why it was put up.
In this case, fans of the comics page came out of the woodworks.
Trust me, we’re working on it.
When they return, the comics pages for The Daily Home and The Anniston Star might look slightly different from the usual lineup, but we intend to have a healthy, vibrant array of strips, columns and puzzles for your enjoyment.
The column from editor Anthony Cook doesn’t hint at what syndicate is taking over their funny pages. A view of the Anniston Star comic page from 2014 shows comic strips from all five syndicates – King Features, Andrews McMeel, Creators, Tribune Content, and Washington Post.
Also, from that first paragraph above:
“…the lineup changes from time to time, depending on cost and availability.”
Not what is best for the readership, but what is the cheapest available. And this is not just the papers being noted here. Increasingly the choice of content is not based on supplying the newspaper reader superior creativity, but on cost.