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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, September 26, 2011

Is The Morning Call Worth 35 Cents a Day Online?

If you say No, you're insulting many fine reporters and columnists at the Morning Call. But if you say Yes, then aren't you insulting many other fine reporters and columnists at The Express Times, WFMZ-TV69 and at Patch?

MC Publisher Timmy Ryan dropped in from Baltimore to say that, starting October 10, it will cost you to read The Morning Call on line. Even print subscribers will have to pay something for online access, and that's so the paper can claim two subscriptions from one person. That way, the paper can artificially increase the number of paid subscribers.

The Morning Call must have forgotten to allow people to weigh in on the paper's new business model. No comments are being accepted. So I'll ask you, is The Morning Call worth 35 cents a day online?

I say No, and here's why. For most of us in the Lehigh Valley, we can find out what we need to know from other news sources, except in downtown Allentown. The Express Times's reach does not extend to Allentown, and Patch avoids it, too. So the only place where there might be an information gap is downtown Allentown. But guess what? There's already an information gap in Allentown because, with notable exceptions like former reporter Jarrett Renshaw, the paper refuses to take a hard look at City government.

That's why somebody like J.B. Reilly, a big Pawlowski campaign contributor, just happens to have 8 parcels around the proposed hockey arena, including three properties he bought in March. To you and me, this is insider trading. To King Edwin, it's coincidence.

Or take a look at Jeff Vaughan, who just happens to be Reilly's brother-in-law. He bought 723 W Hamilton in March for $215,000 and then flipped it to the ACIDA, just four months later, for $246,738. In April, he bought 709 W Hamilton for $150,000, and sold that property in July, again to ACIDA, for $174,487.

In four months, Vaughn was able to earn a $56,225 profit on a $365,000. That's 15.4% profit, better than most loansharks.

Now it could very well be that there's a reasonable explanation for all of this, but asking the questions is what I would expect from a newspaper that really covers Allentown. If I've heard about this in Nazareth, my guess is that The Morning Call has heard it, too.

The paper digs in Easton or Bethlehem, where it has friendly competition. In Allentown, however, where it is the only game in town, the paper seems to be on automatic pilot. Blogger Michael Molovinsky, fortunately, does his best at keeping local government honest. Many of his stories later appear in The Morning Call.

Because The Morning Call fails to cover the one area where it basically has a monopoly, I think an online subscription is a waste of money.

Will I subscribe anyway? If I do, it will be because I really enjoy the columns written by Bill White, our LV Mark Twain, and consumer watchdog Paul Mushick, who has been very impressive since he got a column.

Oh yeah, then there's Matt Assad, too, a reporter whose hard-hitting style might make him more reviled than me. I'll still want to read him.

Of course, I'd miss Scott Kraus, too. He can make a complete ass out of someone while trying to appear objective.

He's done it to me many times.

I liked Spencer Soper's Amazon expose, too, even though another blogger had him beat by about six months.

Who am I kidding? I'll be subscribing for online access. I just wish print subscribers got the online subscription as part of their package.

I wonder if my blog droppings are worth a dollar a day?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Isnt Morning Call in the Neighborhood Improvemnt Zone Taxpayers could be ending up pyng for the property at 6th and Linden sts same as they will be paying for O'Reilys Properties and fo the profit Jeff Vaughn made on the properties you reported.

Untouched Takeaway said...

I won't pay.

Even the New York Times allowed it's frequent online readers a break - can't remember the corporation, but they sponsored a year's "reprieve" to the regular online readers/commenters.

I'd pay for the NY Times before I'd ever consider paying for the MC. And the Times allowed comments on *their* pay wall story.


Untouched Takeaway said...

Gah..."its" frequent readers...not "it's".


Bill Coker said...

No, MC doesn't cover anything properly. Just read Mon. print edition and it was about the size of an advertising mailer. The arena area has been a shooting gallery for the past week or so and nothing noted except for brief notices of each shooting.

Anonymous said...

Knew it was coming. But 35 cents a day and then they'll follow us from story to story and create a data base on each of us.

Anonymous said...

Think you're going to have lots more readers. Is that you in the photo,
40s style reporter?

Anonymous said...

When the Call closed offices and laid off personnel, the quality went downhill. They frequently are days behind the news. In fact, there is no real news in their papers. It's not even worth a few cents per day.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that the notice they were charging for on line access was not first covered inthe ET or on your blog.

Anonymous said...

No. I will not pay. The MC covers only a fraction of the local news that it once did.

Anonymous said...

The Morning Call is a terrible excuse for journalism and society will be better when it is completely gone. It's an information tool of the past and most have moved on quite nicely without it.

What will fill such a critical information void? Oh, only about a kabillion other sources. The Call has seriously covered local news in a decade.

Before we lament the loss of what some considered great institutions (i.e. newspapers), remember that two Americans of note died on the same day in 1995. The religiously worshiped New York Times noted both passings, one on page one and one below the fold on page eight.

Jerry Garcia, the junkie lead singer of the Grateful Dead who finally found his heroin limit got the front page. Dr. Jonas Salk barely made page eight.

So-called respected newspapers have been poor versions of People magazine in newsprint for years. The Morning Call will have to pay me to read the shit it presents in a third grade style book.

Here's to it going completely out of business. We survived the loss of the town crier. We've already moved past poorly written rags.

Anonymous said...

clarification: the Call has NOT seriously covered local news in a decade.

Anonymous said...

No, I cancled the print edition this year (after 40 years) and I will not be paying for either anymore.

Anonymous said...

If Patch.com was clever, now is the time to jump on a larger readership audience including Allentown.
The Lower Saucon Patch did an excellent job reporting on the almost "secreted" closing of Apple butter Road. Folks say the Call didn't even send a reporter to this very important public meeting.

Anonymous said...

No, we will not pay.

Anonymous said...

Nope. I get more information from my weekly Salisbury Press than I do from a daily MC.

Mitch said...

A question -

If someone gets the Mcall App for their smartphone, would he/she still be charged for online content?

While I don't have it, I suppose the App may cost <$3 to download, and usually there are no continuing charges.

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't pay a nickel a day for the morning call it is only useful as bird cage liner.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

If I want to read the press releases from City Hall, I can go on the City of Allentown website and get them for free.

No need to pay 35 cents to see them re-worded in the Call.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nope. I get more information from my weekly Salisbury Press than I do from a daily MC.

7:19 AM
Agree. The Press papers are very good.

Anonymous said...

Matt Assad? You're kidding right? The guy is a puppet and cheerleader for the Sands and the City of Bethlehem.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Isnt Morning Call in the Neighborhood Improvemnt Zone "

Good question.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'd pay for the NY Times before I'd ever consider paying for the MC. And the Times allowed comments on *their* pay wall story."

I bought into that before as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Just read Mon. print edition and it was about the size of an advertising mailer."

Bill, On Mondays, it always looks horrible, that's for sure.

ironpigpen said...

The Morning Call should pay me 35 cents every time I read it for putting up with the obvious Agenda and Bias continuously and obnoxiously on display.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Folks say the Call didn't even send a reporter to this very important public meeting"

I know I never see them in the outlying townships, which can get crazy. The ET is having trouble, too. It's difficult, but you have to try. The ET tries. They may not be at every meeting, but seem to care. I do not see that attitude at the MC, which simply stops going and then calls township officials to ask what happened.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Agree. The Press papers are very good."

Since I write for one of them, and from time to time for Patch, I'm not objective, but I agree.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mitch, In addition to the dl fee, I believe there will be a periodic charge for the app.

Anonymous said...

Paying for something that imitates the real thing is just a waste of money.


"Rilex" watch street vendors

Anonymous said...

When they actually go out and report news like it was done ages ago, then maybe it would be worth 35 cents. right now, most of their news, as well as the ET, comes from the local news station on TV. Very few reporters seem to leave the comfort of their desks now days.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

826 interesting point. Who cares if the Sands is expanding an employee parking lot and why does the MC think it deserves prominent coverage.

If it is promoted by a city, be assured it will get front page coverage with photos and continued on other pages. If it happens elsewhere, your fortunate to get a word restricted article in the two page local section.

I would be interested to know the number of subscribers of the top 10 municipalities.

Chris Casey said...

Bernie _

overheard today: "Isn't it hypocrisy for the Morning Call to criticize a company that rmploys thousands of Americans when the Tribune Company that owns them sent all their customer service to phone banks in the Phillipines?"

Touche! Maybe the Morning Call could write an expose of the working conditions at their call center?!

Anonymous said...

Without the Call, how will the Mayor and Council get out their messages? They will have to go back to door to door campaigning.

I cancelled my subscription to the Call several years ago. Used to get the Sunday paper until I found even the coupons weren't worth it. Once in a while I will pick up a Sunday paper on Monday at the dollar store for, well, a buck.

I do check the online Call but would not pay to read it. And I doubt if I will miss it. It is more like a high school paper that features the 'stars' of the community (in their opinion) instead of news.

Gustavo Muchacho said...

Anon 6:51

Dr. Salk died in June '95. Jerry Garcia died in August '95.

Bill Coker said...

9:20 PM

Details, details, everyone gets wrappred up in details.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, who/where was the blog post whistleblowing the Amazon story 6 months ago? I'd be interested to read.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There were actually two or three posts from this blogger. As you probably know, he has removed his blog because some of the work he is doing now is quite sensitive. I have not named him for that reason as well.

Monkey Momma said...

Sorry I'm late to these comments, but the info about Jeff Vaughan and JB Reilly is stunning. That is why I wished Bernie had more time to write about Allentown. Molovinsky does a fabulous job covering the city, but he can't do everything. And details like the ones Bernie drops here are truly breathtaking.

Anyways, I just came from the Call's website. They've had the same stories in the headlines section for DAYS. Combined with the other obvious flaws of the paper, of course it's not worth $10 a month to subscribe. But...I probably will pony up the cash. What else can you do??

Anonymous said...

Monkey Momma -

You can NOT pony up.

Inconvenience yourself for the short term. The long term benefit will be worth it.

That company needs to complete the failure cycle. From the ashes may rise a decent news organization.

Maybe not, but, that is the only hope. The current owners will not use the money to grow and profit through continually delivering value. They will take the money and feed the predator investment bankers that will end up with it if the bankruptcy ever closes.

Anonymous said...

The morning gag is no longer a sorce of reporting paper it was long ago! This company has become a corperation that is part of the political corruption in allenclown pa were the king palumpashitsky and his court jesters city counsil

Anonymous said...

I can totally understand that all companies need to make money. They have rent, employees, taxes, supplies... to pay for. The Morning Call has to be losing subscribers since it can be, or used to be, read online for free. They have to make money or shut down. I personally am not that interested with the paper especially since I can see any important news on WFMZ for free.