While in St. Louis, Mo., earlier this week my family and I were lodged at a hotel near Dorset and I-270. The first morning, while my family readied themselves for the day, I took the elevator to the lobby for coffee and to buy a local newspaper (in this case the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), a traveling habit I have followed for several years in dozens of cities and a handful of countries.
After pouring a cup of coffee and scouting around the lobby I questioned the desk clerk about the location of the newspaper rack.
He shook his head.
“We don’t have one.”
You don’t sell the local newspaper?
“Nope. We had a rack but hardly anyone ever bought one so they took it out.”
I’ve spent most of my working life in and around newspapers. It’s no mystery that the newspaper business is changing and many papers, including the one I regularly write for (The Courier-Journal; www.courier-journal.com) have faced a myriad of challenges. But so little reader interest that a major hotel chain in major U. S. city can’t move enough papers to keep a rack in the lobby? That was surprising.
A few months ago I ran into a colleague at a writers meeting. He jokingly referred to me as a “dinosaur” because the bulk of my work stills appears in print for a daily newspaper. We enjoyed a laugh.
Maybe it wasn’t all that funny.