Monday, April 6, 2009

Try weekly

Almost 25 years ago, I worked for this guy(a Randolph-Macon grad) and sat next to this guy in the newsroom. Thanks to the internet, I can see what they're up to. And thanks to the internet, their job security isn't what it once was.
My former boss looked at the newspaper industries' bleak bottom line. They have readers, but not enough revenue. What to do?
The paper we worked at was a tri-weekly, covering a ocean-side South Carolina county. There were dailies to the north (Myrtle Beach) and south (Charleston), but we had our county covered with our local news. We were all working hard to move to bigger and more prestigious papers and advance our careers.
But that was then. Now, the problem for newspapers may be too many dailies. How much of the Staunton and Waynesboro papers are local content, especially the Monday and Tuesday editions? Some dailies could cut back to three days per week and possibly be stronger on the local news and advertising sides.
The troubles with this plan are obvious, however. Newspapers have made capital outlays and have staffs for producing their product seven days a week. Expenses would still be higher than 3/7 of current levels if they only produce three papers a week.
Plus, if people don't have a newspaper waiting on the front step each morning, will they lose the habit? Will they find the computer a better place to get all their news and forget advertising even exists?
In the spirit of the Obama administration, we see a problem and there must be change. Will it work? Who knows? Just gotta try something.

1 comment:

Chris Graham said...

"There must be change." That, or the papers can do the same thing over and over and hope for a different result. But that's insanity, by the popular definition.

My gamble here is that mom-and-pop news organizations with lower overhead and lower expenses will be in a position to flourish once the big boys size themselves out of the market.

Your analysis about the corner they've backed themselves into is dead on. This is why you no longer work in a newsroom. You have too much in the smarts department.