As you have probably heard, newspapers are in financial peril and everyone in the industry is scrambling to figure out how to make newspapers profitable again.
The latest blow came last week, when 19 of The Cricket's colleagues here at The Salt Lake Tribune about 20 percent of the newsroom were laid off.
Those of us who remain struggle, as papers across the nation do, to find a way to make money providing information in the Internet age. We wrestle with the question of staying relevant when readers can receive news, weather, sports, restaurant reviews, movie listings and an inexhaustible supply of kitten videos online whenever they want.
Instead of trying to guess what readers want, The Cricket is asking you, the readers, directly through the following short survey:
Question 1: Where do you get most of your news?
D. News websites.
E. From TVs and radios playing in the background of kitten videos.
Question 2: If you did not answer "A." to Question 1, can you describe why you have soured on newspapers?
A. Too much liberal bias.
B. Too much conservative/corporate bias.
C. A strong belief that all the news is just a prank perpetrated by Jimmy Kimmel.
D. Not enough pictures of kittens.
Question 3: If you did answer "A." to Question 1, may we ask …
B. Would you adopt us?
C. Would you adopt our kittens?
Question 4: How could newspapers call readers' attention to important but not particularly popular news stories? Let's consider some examples. First, what would get you to read about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare?
A. An in-depth discussion on whether major insurance companies cover injuries sustained in twerking accidents.
B. A story about whether Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's baby, North West, gets better pediatric coverage than your kid does.
C. Embedding the winning Powerball lottery numbers in a pie chart detailing mortality rates of various diseases.
D. An interactive graphic showing how watching kitten videos reduces stress.
Question 5: What would get you to read a story about the crisis in Syria?
A. Include more photos of Russian leader Vladimir Putin shirtless.
B. Persuade U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf to pose for a Maxim cover shoot.
C. Attach information about Syria to a celebrity sex tape. (Editor's note: Alyssa Milano actually did this earlier this month on FunnyOrDie.com.)
D. Show videos of kittens being gassed with Sarin nerve agent.
Question 6: If The Salt Lake Tribune's website erected a paywall, requiring a small fee to read some news stories, how would you cope?
A. Pony up a few pennies, a small price to pay for good journalism.
B. Just read the headlines and first paragraphs, which are not hidden behind a paywall.
C. Listen for news on local radio stations, since they mostly read right out of the Tribune anyway.
D. Spend more time watching kitten videos.
Question 7: What sorts of stories would you be willing to pay for if they were put behind a paywall?
A. Prep sports coverage.
B. University of Utah and Brigham Young University football coverage.
C. Boating tips from John Swallow.
D. More pictures of kittens.
Question 8: If The Salt Lake Tribune's website did erect a paywall, how would you pay your monthly subscription fee?
A. In dollars.
B. In euros.
C. In Chinese yuan.
D. Through Bitcoin, whatever the hell that is.
E. Using a barter system involving chickens, goats and bags of flour.
F. In kittens.
Question 9: If there were one thing that would guarantee the future of journalism, what would it be?
A. Journalism's watchdog role on government and corporate malfeasance.
B. In-depth investigative reporting that uncovers threats to your daily life.
C. Journalism's ability to speak truth to power.
D. Photos of Miley Cyrus dancing lasciviously. With kittens.
Sean P. Means, for the moment, writes The Cricket in daily blog form at www.sltrib.com/blogs/moviecricket. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/seanpmeans. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.