Lorraine Theatre article

From May 22, 2007:

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Article in Champaign daily The News-Gazette about Greg Boardman‘s sale of the Lorraine Theatre in Hoopeston, IL, to entrepreneur Kevin Alvarez of Burlington, WI, and the minor operational changes to be expected in the near future.


Editor’s note: Since I started C-U Blogfidential, I’ve operated under a particular rule regarding editorial published elsewhere – if it’s available on-line for free and applicable to this Weblog’s mission, I’ll link to it and call it to my readership’s attention. The exception is when I receive permission to reprint something on CUBlog itself.

At some point during the winter, the News-Gazette decided to join in on a trend perpetuated by other periodicals and newspapers, whereas their Web archives are free to search but article downloads must be purchased. In this case, a single download costs $2.95 (!) with seemingly the same value given 2,000 word features and 250 word news items, although their set of arbitrary-looking package deals will apparently ease the pain for regular readers of “old news.”

It’s actually a bit insulting since said archives, which only reach back to 1997, aren’t even complete daily archives as the News-Gazette editorial board has been strangely frugal about what’s actually posted. (In other words, you could look for something that has been written about eight times since 1997, and your search could return zero results because none of those pieces ever made it to the Web.) I’ve also noticed recently that most on-line material seems to involve local business, politics, crime, education, and feel-good profiles of community members. I have no argument against their inclusion. However, why in the hell are there two or three N-G articles about anything Danville every single day – what, the Danville Commercial-News can’t squeeze it all in? – while the local arts barely even rate a regular mention? Oh, wait, you have to buy the paper in order to read about the local arts. Riiiiiiiight.

Although I have long understood the true business of a newspaper – to make money – I find this development completely out-of-place given what should be the business of a newspaper – to provide an unfailing and accessible information service to the community. The Pantagraph of Bloomington-Normal instilled a “pay-per-piece” retrieval system years ago; it pissed me off then, and it pisses me off even more now that my local paper engages in the same practice.

Suffice it to say, all prior links on this site to older News-Gazette articles are essentially “dead;” they will take you to a teaser page with a message asking you to log in and pony up if you’d like to read the rest. The link up top for the Lorraine Theatre article will meet the same fate a week from now. I never had a problem directing C-U Blogfidential readers towards N-G stories that complemented what is posted here, especially those timely articles that were literally “news to me,” your editor, when they first appeared on-line. So, should I bother anymore?

Maybe. As the content base of C-U Blogfidential grows, and more people read and search through it, I imagine that somewhere along the way the discovery of an older News-Gazette article (or, at least, the mere existence of it) might be of value to a journalist, film fan, or researcher. However, I also want it understood that I have no intention in helping the N-G make money with my helping hand when I otherwise don’t see a cent. Did I mention this pisses me off?

I am now going to defy the Commercial Media gods (and don’t let anyone tell you that the News-Gazette is otherwise) and suggest three ways that you can get around this money-grubbing ploy:

1. Whenever I link to editorial elsewhere, especially that published by a newspaper, go read it as soon as you can. If you want the article for future reference, e-mail the text-only version to yourself or print it out immediately and stash it in a safe place.

2. The circulation department in the News-Gazette building in downtown Champaign stocks available copies of N-G issues from the prior 12 months. Write down the date of the issue you’re interested in, visit the N-G offices during business hours, tell the receptionist you’d like to buy a back issue, go downstairs, turn right, go through the door and straight back to the far counter, and ask the nice mid-level employee if he or she can find your back issue. It should only cost the original cover price. Isn’t 50 cents better than 295 cents for an article? You even get an entire paper to go with it! Just remember to recycle the boring sections.

3. When your results come up on the News-Gazette‘s search engine, a text blurb states that the article is available through NewsLibrary, which is an electronic archiving service. Chances are good that your local public library might suscribe to NewsLibrary or a similar service, providing blanket access via computer to thousands of articles published by hundreds of newspapers large and small.

I discovered that the Newspaper Archives on the second floor of the main Library building at the University of Illinois (just west of the Undergraduate Library on Gregory Drive) have computers equipped with such a search engine. Even as a walk-in Joe Citizen (albeit a tax-paying one) I was allowed to use this wonderful tool to look up old articles that all happened to be published by … a-hem … the Pantagraph. I had the option of printing them out for the price of photocopies (as you would from microfiche) or e-mailing them intact to my personal account for free! This service does not reproduce any photography that might have originally run with the articles, so I chose the latter option and clicked “Send.” End of story, morning glory!

~ Jason Pankoke

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