Ted Vaden, the News and Observer’s Public Editor, tries to explain the upcoming shrinkages to that paper. In the process, he goes to the expert on vanishing newspapers, Phil Meyer. But Vaden misses the most telling quote from Phil’s Vanishing Newspaper in which Gary Pruitt current CEO of McClatchy (now NandO’s owners) says:

“We always say to our papers, you challenge is no matter what, the paper must improve. It always drove me crazy … where in a downturn, news hold cuts were made and the paper got worse. … And I always thought restaurants don’t make food worse in a downturn. Car companies don’t make cars less safe in a downturn. … Why is it OK to make a newspaper worse in a recession? That’s your excuse for making your product worse? It makes no sense.”

The question to Ted and to NandO and, indeed, to Pruitt is: are you making your product worse?

Also not discussed is that McClatchey revenue took a dive of 9.2% in November. A 6% decline in circulation and a more than 30% drop in real estate classifieds were some of driving forces for the revenue drop.

A more local McClatchy property, the Chapel Hill News, took a page cut today as well. The Sunday paper will now barely cover the bottom of a birdcage and is much too thin for wrapping a fish. (sans inserts).