About Bruce VanWyngarden's Letter From the Editor, "Black and White and Read All Over" ...
[The Commercial Appeal's story] was a good read. Even at the turn of the 20th century, readers were complaining about the violence, murder, and mayhem in the paper. But then this has always been a bawdy, violent river town.
If the CA focused on investigative reporting while balancing its coverage with the good and the bad, it would be a thriving metropolitan daily. I firmly believe that the CA can stabilize and thrive within the Memphis MSA.
When I lived in Middle Tennessee, The Tennessean was the standard for anybody who followed Tennessee politics. Broadly, the economic model of print journalism is in decline. It truly is a shame, because there is so much benefit it brings to society.
Papers create a public space. In many ways, local papers are like the town square, where debates of the day on current topics of interest take place. That's why I think the comment sections of local papers are so important, and why I stopped my CA subscription when they went with their Facebook requirement. The primary value of my local paper to me is as a source for a curated discussion of things that might interest the local citizen. I am willing to pay for that, even if a new form of payment is necessary to keep the papers going. But I absolutely refuse to surrender my personal metadata to the Facebook abomination.
The Tennessean is awful. It is nowhere near the entity it once was. The CA is better at this point than The Tennessean. That said, I cancelled my subscription about two weeks ago to the CA. I was a 25-year subscriber, but I got tired of not receiving the paper in the morning and the customer service refusing to have it re-delivered.
About the Flyer editorial, "Memphis Zoo Study Provokes Controversy" ...
The economic impact of the Memphis Zoo seems to be wildly overstated. The lack of empirical data and the multitude of assumptions leave the results of the study questionable. The tens of millions of tax dollars poured into the zoo have resulted in a shortage of dollars for other projects which would benefit Memphians. The zoo must begin to show a profit. If that is not possible given the current management structure, new managers are required. We must not continue to fund year after year deficits to the detriment of every other park program.
The zoo makes roughly $17 million in revenue. Suggesting that it has a multiplicative effect as it works through the Memphis economy is pretty standard in economic impact assessments. Questions about the amount of that multiplier we can leave to economists to argue over. Suggesting that it brings in additional business not seen in zoo revenues, since it is Memphis' No. 1 tourist attraction, should be expected. Are we to believe everyone comes to the zoo, then goes and never does anything else?
The great majority of the out-of-Memphis visitors to the zoo come from West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and Arkansas. They come to the zoo, buy McDonald's for the kids, leave the wrappers on the Greensward where they park, and return home from the zoo with exhausted children.
The zoo needs to produce its surveys, which are the raw data for this study. Who did they survey? How did they survey? When did they survey? It is high time that the taxpayers of this city stopped subsidizing the zoo to the tune of around $4,000,000 a year. That money would go a long way to funding a fire and police pension and to fixing our city parks for the benefit of our children and our citizens.
About a visit to Memphis ...
Last week I had the pleasure of travelling to Memphis from Ottawa, Canada. I went to Graceland, the Bass Pro Pyramid, BBQ festival, and several restaurants.
What my Google search failed to disclose was the polite, kind, and terrific people I would meet along the way. Without exception, everyone in the service industry was fantastic. Memphis police and several others stood out as being well above what I expected.
Great job. I will certainly return.
Paul Gagnon, Ottawa Ontario