The Teller received this Letter to the Editor regarding the Comstock Chronicle and was asked to post it anonymously. We reserve the right to publish letters where the author wishes to remain unknown. Here in Storey County vindictive actions have been known to cost people their jobs among other things. The Teller remains a place where people can clear the air and vent without having their tires slashed.
This letter is particularly close to me as The Chronicle has chosen to twist my words around and paint me with the ugly stick.
What many of you, gentle reader, may not know is that I was in negotiations to buy the Chronicle just about a year ago. Rather than allow the Chron to fall into my hands, Zach and Elaine Spencer decided to return from Arizona to run the paper.
I am delighted they did. The Chronicle is a money loser and is not really a wise advertising investment in the sense that the 300 or so people who read it are locals and pretty much already know where to eat and drink. The pages run weekly Press Releases from Comstock Mining and the band of merry TRICsters. Aside from an occasional good piece of writing from Karen Woodmansee, the paper is wafer thin.
Based on this letter from someone with some inside baseball knowledge, I’m not alone in my assessment of the “Comstock Comical”
A Fool and Their Money
I recently saw a Facebook post stating the Comstock Chronicle and Dayton Dispatch would be combined for the season. The Spencers were touting something about how advertisers would be getting double bang for their buck now! Twice the exposure! Twice the readership! And all for the same low price! I got so excited. I began madly scampering about the house looking for my checkbook as I wanted to get in on this stupendous bargain. I hadn’t a clue what I would advertise but if I could pay one low price and have my ad seen in two separate markets, well, I know a bargain when I see one and I wanted to get me some of that.
Before I was able to locate the checkbook or decide upon what I might advertise, it occurred to me that the Comstock Chronicle and Dayton Dispatch were actually one in the same. It was always one paper which was distributed throughout the Comstock/Dayton areas. Much like a puffer fish inflating to make itself appear larger and more formidable, the Spencers had split the Dayton section out (formerly called the Southern Chron and contained within the Comstock Chronicle), slapped a new name on it and marketed it as a second publication. They seemingly doubled their empire as they now presided over two journalistic publications instead of one. And not only that but they also took in the Virginia City News so they could claim three times the market! Marketing magic!
But wait. After the shock and awe of the magic trick passes all you’re left with is the empty illusion. If only 300 people read the newspaper, does it matter if you provide that news in one, two or three publications? You’re stilling working with that same base of 300 people, are you not? I was almost suckered in by the fancy footwork!
Formerly, if I paid for an advertisement, it was distributed to the entire Comstock readership. When they split the Chron into two papers and absorbed (silenced) the competing VC News, they could then charge for three markets (which was still that same base of 300 people). Now, after less than a year, they are reverting back to a single publication and telling me I now get three markets for the price of one? I think the sum total of their market is still those same 300 people. Feels a bit like the old shell game.
They’ve recently announced they will be putting the Comstock Chronicle online. What do you want to bet they’ll now claim four times the exposure?
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that in this day and age of deceptive and misleading advertising the Comstock Chronicle should intentionally attempt to mislead readers for their financial gain. It’s just that I foolishly expect a higher level of honesty and integrity from the local news source that would like to portray itself as a good neighbor. But whether they’re promoting the mine or selling advertising for their publication, the Spencers are, in the end, all about putting lipstick on the pig. It’s probably foolish for one to expect integrity from those engaged in such shady business.
I have to take exception to this letter. Truthful criticism is fair, but untruthful criticism, especially when your readers might not even read the “Comstock Chronicle,” is unfair. I have received both the “Dayton Dispatch” and the “Comstock Chronicle” for quite awhile. The former is VERY different from the latter. The editor for the Dayton paper, Rob Wm. Vugteveen, runs several articles per issue that are completely pertinent to Dayton and they’re not just submitted puff pieces. They run from local politics, to concerns about water availability, the local police force, noxious smells from local manufacturing, Dayton wild horses, and articles about Dayton history and artists. The only piece that runs concurrently in the Dispatch and Chron, is McAvoy Layne’s “Pine Nuts.” I actually think the Dispatch runs more civic articles than the Chronicle, even though it’s a few pages lighter. I wish the Chronicle had more coverage of county government activities. That’s why I appreciate Nicole Barde’s blog as she covers EVERYTHING. I also appreciate Sam Toll’s coverage. Sometimes, their coverage overlaps with the Chronicle’s and it’s good to see reporting from three viewpoints. Now, to be fair here again, while the Chronicle does run press releases from TRIC & CMI, it’s not a weekly occurrence. The paper by no means comes off as a weekly mouthpiece for those entities. I’ve also observed that the Chronicle has run opposing letters and articles about TRIC & CMI. It’s my understanding that the Comstock Residents Assoc. has had their press releases run, and David Toll’s reportage on the state of CMI printed in the Chron. I’m a very fast reader and can usually read the paper in roughly 10 minutes, but that doesn’t mean that other people don’t get more enjoyment from “Joe Pastrami,” and Poston’s “Maze” series, as well as their coverage of local events. I have no idea what the advertising rates are for the Chron and Dispatch and what they are now as a “ganged” publication. I don’t know the plans for the advertising rates when the website goes up. But whether they’re 10 cents a column inch, or $1,000 a column inch, the market will decide whether those rates are worth the return on investment. This is a free country, and if anyone wants to start an additional weekly for the Comstock, it’s certainly more easy and inexpensive to do so in this age with electronic publication. In the 30 years I’ve lived here, I recall there have been two rival publications to the Chronicle. I read them both when they were alive, and they were a positive addition to the mix. The “Virginia City Register” was started by Charles Porchia, and edited by Doug Truhill, when Charlie wanted his own bully pulpit to spread his opinions about county government. He finally got so disgusted with Storey County, he moved to Oregon. That’s a shame. I wish he’d stayed here and persevered. Anyway, I just wanted to share my opinion about the above opinion. – Cynthia Kennedy
Just to set the record straight, The Virginia City Register was started by and owned by Doug and Sharon Truhill, with a loan from Charles Porcha. Charlie did not often conrtibute to the paper but wanted to see a view expressed other than the left leaning and , as he put it “nasty crap” the Chronicle seemed to print. Some folks have told me the Chron’s owners have carried on this storied tradition. I would’nt know.
We never made much money publishing the V.C. Register and the reason we stopped publication was due to a devistating auto accident my wife and I suffered while delivering newspapers to our distributor. We were struck by a full size 3/4 ton truck doing 60 miles an hour while we were stopped in our little Jeep. This is why we were forced to stop printing. We could’nt even sell the Register (because it became dorment) due to the fact that the publisher, the editor, the writers and local distriburors were gone. That was my wife and I.— Doug
Thanks for setting things straight, Doug. I hope things are better for you and your wife. Running a paper is tough sledding.
Sam, thanks for getting accurate and pertinent information to us. I picked up last weeks issue of the Chronicle. In the Dayton part, there was an article about a candidate’s night. It described who attended and what some of the topics discussed were, but made absolutely no mention of what any of the candidates said about those topics. A complete waste of paper and ink.