I just came from my local Pavilion’s where a very exuberant young man named Frank waved me over and offered me a "free" Los Angeles Times.
I’d already read the Times online this afternoon, but I thought I’d be supportive. Sure, I’ll take a paper — which I long ago stopped buying.
But wait — there’s a deal here! Frank, who wore a crisp L.A. Times button-down shirt, whipped out a plastic card that showed me that if I bought the paper for the weekend, it would cost $1.50 — in which I would reclaim 74 cents worth of coupons from Vons and Pavilions!
"That’s practically free!" he shouted gleefully, as he pointed toward the stack of papers I’d never need to buy again.
I felt bad for the guy. He seemed so convinced.
He reminded me of the unemployed gentleman who knocked on my door a year or so ago who tried to sell me magazines. I wanted to help him out, but I explained that I rarely read magazines, definitely not Time and Newsweek anymore. I told him that although I admired his enterprise, none of the titles he was selling interested me at all, and by the way print was dying — he ought to find something else to sell.
Same kind of thing. I explained to Frank that not only was I a digital journalist who had stopped reading most anything on paper, but that the last time I clipped coupons I was knee-high to my Mom and required her supervision.
"Really?" he said, looking puzzled. "But it’s practically free."
I don’t know who is sending out these brave young men to win over new consumers of the print edition, whether it’s the L.A. Times or Vons — apparently it’s a joint initiative — but seriously, can’t you give them something to sell that people actually want?