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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Peter Grosz, Brian Babylon and Faith Salie. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Right now...


SAGAL: ...It's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff The Listener Game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

KIERAN FENICHEL: Hi everyone. It's Kieran Fenichel from New York, N.Y.

SAGAL: Hey Kieran. How are things in New York, N.Y.?

FENICHEL: Same old, same old here.

SAGAL: What kind of exciting things do you do in New York City?

FENICHEL: I work at the United Nations, actually.

SAGAL: Do you really? Do you...


SAGAL: Do you spend a lot of time with diplomats?

FENICHEL: I do. They are all around that area, so you can't help but run into them everywhere.

SAGAL: Are they diplomatic?


FENICHEL: They are.

SAGAL: When you run into them, do they say oh, I'm sorry, that was my fault?


FENICHEL: They do. They usually step out of the way.

SAGAL: Oh, how - that's very diplomatic.

FAITH SALIE: Kieran, are they concerned about our upcoming election?

FENICHEL: I would say that most everyone in the world is.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Kieran. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Kieran's topic?

KURTIS: Print is dead, and that's coming from someone who works in radio.


SAGAL: Newspapers are dying, which is a real shame for anyone passionate about journalism or hoarding. But this week, we heard about someone trying to save print in a unique way. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Guess the real one, you'll win our prize. Carl Kasell's voice on your very own voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: All right...

FENICHEL: That sounds great.

SAGAL: ...Let's hear first from Peter Grosz.

PETER GROSZ: One day while house training his new puppy, Yorgi Borgida, the managing editor of the Timisoara Times in Timisoara, Romania, had an amazing idea. Borgida was surprised at how many newspapers he went through covering the floor of his apartment to prevent his little Shih Tzu from shih tzuing everywhere.


GROSZ: "I had to buy three copies of that day's paper," said Borgida. "And I thought why not get other people to do the same thing?" That's why all over Timisoara this week, people started seeing ads that feature a picture of a happy-looking pooch squatting over a pile of newspapers.

The slogan, which has a few peculiar Romanian idioms, roughly translates to your dog should leave his old food on our business. And it's working. This week alone, circulation is up 50 percent. Special pee-pads for dogs are expensive, and the Timisoara Times costs about .15 cents. Says a delighted Borgida, "of course we'd rather people be reading our newspaper. But as long as they're buying it, we still get paid."

Not everyone at the times is happy. Veteran columnist Ivan Shpiler wrote a sarcastic column in yesterday's paper entitled "My Hard Work Is Your Dog's Bathroom."


GROSZ: But the results are undeniable. And another publication in town has actually begun their own ad campaign arguing that their paper contains better reporting, an expanded culture section and a softer more gentle fiber that feels better on your dog's behind.


GROSZ: As for the Timisoara Times, Borgida says they plan on expanding into bird cages, having their issues shredded for cat litter and are working with Pampers to create the world's first news-diapers.


SAGAL: A paper...


SAGAL: A paper intentionally marketing itself as a more inexpensive puppy pad. Your next story of a new effort to save an old business comes from Faith Salie.

SALIE: If you've ever been to Morocco, you know its people are warm and generous, eager to lend you the tagine off their back. You can sit for hours in a Moroccan cafe nursing mint tea and sharing stories. Just don't share newspapers because that act of civility is now a civil offense. In an attempt to bolster the print industry, the country's communication minister has banned the lending and free provision of newspapers in all cafes.

The Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Editors claims it has, quote, "lost approximately $150 million per year due to the population's access to newspapers that are left behind in public places." Minister Mustafa Khalfi says publishers are suffering from the unscrupulous charitableness of Moroccans. So he has forbidden the papers from being like Westerners, wantonly spread open, just waiting for anyone to pick them up.


SALIE: Cafes may now post baristas to spring pop quizzes on empty-handed customers. Those who display a knowledge of half-day-old news could have their fingers inspected for ink.


SAGAL: Morocco bans the sharing of newspapers so that people will have to buy their own copy. Your last story of someone trying not to stop the presses comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: Cleveland native Crystal O'Connor had her hands full when she got a new job as the managing editor and publisher of the Guinness Gazette in Dublin, Ireland. Like all newspapers, it's been struggling with circulation and ad sales, and she needed a way to increase the interest of the paper.

But like everybody in America and no one who actually lived in Ireland, O'Connor knows about leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


BABYLON: So she announced the great leprechaun treasure giveaway with clues buried in each edition of the paper, which can only be seen through special glasses, 2 euros each. People went nuts. Thousands of glasses were sold, as well as many extra issues of the paper. Dubliners scanned for clues, solved puzzles and then last Sunday discovered a crate berry (ph) in a suburban backyard.

The lucky finder of the leprechaun's treasure opened the crate to find three week's worth of back issues of the Gazette and a plaque reading the true treasure is knowledge.


BABYLON: The drunk riots that followed destroyed the offices of the Guinness Gazette.


BABYLON: And the police say that the newspaper bonfire that burned all night was visible 20 kilometers away. However, the insurance payoff on the building - the newspaper is now back in the black. Plus, Ms. O'Connor says, they had to buy those newspapers to burn them. So in the end, it worked.


SAGAL: Here are your stories.


SAGAL: One of them is real. Somebody tried to figure out a way to save print journalism in one of these ways. Was it in Timisoara, Romania, where the newspaper decided to advertise itself as a useful puppy pad for your pet, from Morocco, where they have banned the lending or sharing of newspapers making sure everybody buys their own copy, or from Brian, an ill-fated attempt to have a treasure hunt in Dublin that did not end well but ended well? Which of these is the real story of innovation in the journalism biz?

FENICHEL: I would say that it's the Moroccan option.

SAGAL: You're going to go for the Morocco story...

FENICHEL: Number one.

SAGAL: That's Faith's story of how Morocco says you cannot share your newspapers anymore, buy your own damn copy?

FENICHEL: Exactly.

SAGAL: All right, you've chosen that story. Well, of course, to bring you the truth, we spoke to someone familiar with the real story.

JAMES ROTHWELL: Newspaper publishers are losing millions of dollars in revenue. Morocco has responded by banning the pre-reading of these papers in cafes and restaurants.


SAGAL: That was James Rothwell of The Daily Telegraph, where we saw the story about the banning of shared newspapers in Morocco. Congratulations Kieran, you got it right.

SALIE: Shukran (ph), Kieran.

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Faith, and you've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. Well done, Kieran.

FENICHEL: Awesome. Thank you guys so much.

SAGAL: Thanks so much for playing with us today, bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.