Spin

I understand the financial crisis that print news is facing as the internet plunders their readership and advertising dollars. As a result, the newspaper showed up at our house today in a new format. It is thinner (by my estimate, 1.5 to 2 inches) and may be shorter. There are no additional pages, the type is reasonably the same size and shape.

The publisher explained these changes in this way, roughly paraphrased: “We are giving you less in a smaller package, for the same amount of money, and this is good for you.” (For example, the smaller format makes it less likely my open newspaper will flop in my wife’s cereal bowl over breakfast.)

I understand the need for the changes, and I understand the need to try to explain these things in as positive a way as possible. But sometimes honesty can be more powerful than spin. I wonder if the paper considered an article that explained the changes as necessary in the light of a shrinking readership and advertising stream, presuming upon the readers’ loyalty and good sense to keep them on board?

It reminds me of a letter we received once from a bank explaining to us why the increase of fees they were instituting were good for us.

And it reminds me that I need to examine my own heart and my own leadership. Good news is easy to communicate. Painful news cries out for spin, and spin is not always the best policy.