August 04, 2013

Is there really an economic recovery in Waco?

Allegedly, unemployment is down and jobs are growing in the Queen City of the Brazos.

But, the world of advertising leads me to question this.

The Waco Tribune-Herald, which continues to show to me, an ink-stained wretch, what many a layperson reader know -- it kind of sucks, surely doesn't give indications of a lively economy.

Yes, I know that early August is a slow time of year. But, just 20 pages in the Saturday paper?

When I was in Odessa, we had 24 for sure, even in late July and early August. And, greater Waco is Odessa plus Midland combined in population. Sure, there's no oil there, and its bounded by Temple to the south and Killeen to the west, but, still, 20 pages is weak.

Of course, it didn't have advertising to justify more than that.

Counting classifieds, but setting aside the almost two pages of obits, which are paid, but not advertising in the narrow sense, the remaining 18 pages would have been lucky to be 25 percent ads.

At the same time, when a lot of smaller seven-day dailies don't have an official editorial page editor anymore, instead having either the editor or the ME oversee that, the Trib has not only an editorial page editor but an assistant!

So, aside from the economics issues, I can understand why laypeople complain about the paper.

That said, it's not just the Trib, bad as it may be in general.

I've seen multiple billboards that have "house" ads from Lamar Outdoor on them. Outside the DFW/Houston/San Antone triangle plus Austin, a lot of east, central and south Texas' urban areas are kind of like Waco .... Beaumont, Longview, Tyler, Corpus, etc.

If Rick Perry's got a Texas economic miracle cooking, the pot's not getting even heat.

Update, Oct. 15: Last Saturday's Waco Trib had more pages than that August one, but boy, it was poor on advertising. My quick-scanned guesstimate? About 20 percent ads, 80 percent copy. If Warren Buffett thinks newspapers are such a good investment, he's apparently not always picking the right ones.

He also hasn't gotten the Trib, in a year-plus of Berkshire Hathaway ownership, to put up a paywall, despite his own admonitions about this. Nor has BH apparently done anything to promote regional clustering with the Bryan-College Station Eagle, which it also owns.

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