Why Newspapers Are Dying: John Romano

November 17th, 2008

Watching a Three Stooges flick for the 50th time is more insightful and enlightening than John Romano's "Gimme 5" weakly Bucs column.

Not sure if any of Joe’s readers check out John Romano’s weekly Monday morning Bucs column in the St. Petersburg Times. Whenever Joe notices it, he can’t help but think of The Three Stooges.

Joe is a devotee of the Stooges; Curly episodes only, of course. So when Joe notices John Romano’s “Gimme 5” weekly Bucs column (in this case, the proper word should be “weakly”), Joe is reminded of the time Curly says to Moe, “I’ll take five!” and Moe responds, “Here’s five.” And slaps Curly across the face.

It’s what Romano’s editors should be doing to him because Romano’s weakly Bucs column is a slap in the face to readers.

(Joe has purposely not provided a link because the column isn’t worth linking.)

Memo to Romano: Do you have such an insipid imagination that you cannot come up with a new or different lead paragraph after how many years? Every friggin’ week, football season after football season, Romano begins his column with “Five subjects suitable for inane debate on sports radio.”

The only thing “inane” is your column (which Joe is never moved to read because the author isn’t moved to put any effort into it).

Those nine words strung together has been Romano’s introduction, word-for-word, for years. Hey, Romano, why exactly should any reader feel compelled to read one of your columns if you are too lazy or too unimaginative to come up with a different lead paragraph? Just what pearls of wisdom could you offer if you can’t even concoct a different lead paragraph once a year. Seriously?

I mean, this is a stunt that would/should get a columnist fired from the Shinola (Okla.) Gazette. Really John, what would one of your journalism professors say if you turned in an assignment each week with the same tired lead sentence?

If writing that column is so mentally exhausting or such a cumbersome burden that you cannot bring yourself to type a new lead paragraph, why don’t you do everyone including yourself a favor and let John Cotey or Joe Smith take it over? I’m confident both of them could come up with a different lead paragraph once or twice a season.

Come to think of it, so could probably a middle school communications student.

Romano’s shtick — and if it is shtick, it’s beyond weak — is Exhibit-A why readers are leaving newspapers in droves. If papers want to keep readers they better start learning to give readers a reason to return each day. Writing the same old slop week after week, year after year won’t get it done.

Once upon a time newspapers had a virtual monopoly on how to distribute news and how consumers obtained information. By allowing the same drivel as Romano’s lead paragraph to be used over and over and over again is a perfect example of how some editors are living in the 19th Century. People in the 21st Century actually have multiple options to choose from in their consumption of news. Just take a look at newspaper subscription numbers to see where consumers are going.

(Hint: They’re not going where they can read someone regurgitate the same exact nine words each week.)

One Response to “Why Newspapers Are Dying: John Romano”

  1. Chris Says:

    Ouch! That hit harder than Moe spinning around with a ladder over his head