One advantage of being an editor is having the last word. In the case of Ted Rall's column, I do not presume to have the last word on this subject, but I can respond to what he has to say. While he primarily speaks of the bigger alternative weekly papers, some of what he says is true. Craigslist has changed how people think about classifieds. We, too, have had to make changes in this new world.
Papers like BW survive by putting out good stories each and every week. We corral useful information together such as event listings, restaurant reviews and news the daily won't touch, all with irreverence and attitude. We support issues that are not necessarily mainstream, but are important to the community. We represent the opposite of the mainstream. Our role is important and our readers show us their loyalty and desire for this information every week by picking us up. Our advertisers know that people read us, spend time with us and don't just look at the pretty color photos. And they know that our readers actually shop with businesses that support a free and independent press. These things are what makes a successful paper.
But we can't ignore a change in classified advertising revenue. We are in the process of engineering our own expanded free classifieds in print and online. You can see for yourself on our Web site. But some people don't want to wade through hundreds of ads to find what they're looking for. Some still want to be able to find the best things from other like-minded people. That we can provide.
Would we consider charging a price for our paper? Not now, probably not ever. We're just trying to figure out how to pay for a cheap way to home deliver. How much would you pay?