The 2nd daily newspaper in San Francisco, the Examiner, is a shoddy cut & paste job from newswires with one or two local columnists. It survives on low overhead and advertising. As the main daily, the Chronicle, has scaled back street operations (leading to a sargasso sea of newspaper kiosks around town that the City bought years ago to sell advertising on) the Examiner saw a niche. So now, on most street corners downtown, there is some poor schlub (almost universally, I think "free Examiner?" is about the extent of their English) handing out free newspapers. I would not at all be shocked to learn that this was an under the counter job.
To add insult to injury, the Examiner has taken to dressing these poor folk in some ridiculous garb for marketing purposes. Right now, they are advertising the local hockey team by wearing Shark heads and aprons with sharks all over them. For the opening of the King Tut exhibit, they had faux Pharaonic headdresses. I shudder to think what horrible things will be done to them come the Holidays.
Is this happening in any other city? I do find it strange that the newspaper business is dying, and the Examiner is sort of returning to their roots. Now, if only they would actually invest in some local reporting.
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