Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feb. 13-19 | Your News & Comments: Part 4

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  1. The Arizona Republic had a newsroom of about 420 staffers in 2007. The two 2008 buyouts and the layoffs in 2008, 2009 and 2011 took out about 110 staffers. It's unclear how many more positions have been lost through attrition over those years. Now, up to 44 more will be going, which would bring the staff down around 270, minus the attrition. Can we gather similar numbers for other properties? It's one thing to know the companywide number, which Jim keeps on top of, but it's still another to know what the company's steady downsizing is doing to the newsrooms and, ultimately, to the product that those advertisers still buy.

  2. Clarion-ledger has 54 in its newsroom. That's down from about 120 in 2000. Eleven of those 54 have been offered buyouts. All 11 will be accepted if they sign up. No idea how many will, but at least a few certainly will. Can you say gutted?

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  5. Note: I've just moved comments posted at 1:36 a.m. and a reply at 2:01 -- both related to a RISOGRAPH machine for print-on-demand/on-location -- to this new thread devoted solely to press operations.

  6. 6:54 am...they have been trying to "force" people to home delivery for years, and everything they've done to this point has failed. They also don't get that people LEAVE home delivery for single copy, not the other way around. Especially ours now since all single copy is is stores since "they" took the racks away from SC and gave them to HD.

    Gannett reminds me of a hamburger place I knew home where they made the greatest hamburgers. One day they decided to branch out and get in to chicken, chili, etc. All the food was pretty good but their signature hamburger declined as they were forced to buy a less quality meat. Within a year, the place was closed. They forgot what got them to their high point, compromised, looked for things that wasn't there.

    I would really love my old Florida Today back. Wish somebody could come up with enough money and newspaper savy to buy it back and make it what it once was...ALONG wityh any online product it deems necessary.

  7. 7:19 AM,
    I'm sorry that I do not agree with you, and this is why:
    Gannett needs to provide multiple media-formats, to keep up with consumer life-styles and demands. There are many people that prefer reading Gannett products on mobile-devices. As the cost of mobile devices decreases, this audience will grow even larger.

    Remember, with our print-product, the business model is dependent upon advertising-revenue. With the current recession, ad-revenue is down. In addition to that, print-production costs are increasing.

  8. 7:19 AM,
    If you could come up with a conservative approach to production-costs and/or a way to create additional revenue for the print-product...
    This would help support larger volumes of in-print-content.
    Every company looks for "golden-ticket" ideas to increase sales. This is a time to pull-together, look at the current obstacles and create solutions.

  9. "Golden-ticket" ideas to increase sales... Perhaps a Movie ticket ad-promo to increase print-copy sales.

  10. 1:22 AM, the Clarion-Ledger should really think about selling their building and relocating to a smaller space now. Even when I was still then before I was laid off last June, walking into the newsroom every morning felt like I'd accidentally shown up on a holiday because no one was there. On Fridays when most folks took their furlough days it was even worse.

  11. Hi, 7:19. Only problem is that revenue from digital and online platforms will never come close to paying full-time pros. So most of the "content" will be crap served up by freelancers with no benefits. That's the new biz model, with a few millionaires at the top of The G chain. Enjoy your new toys and declining standard of living.

    P.S. I love technology but personally can't afford what Verizon, Sprint, charge for monthly data packages. And getting a new Apple product every year is costly too.

  12. 10:46 AM,
    You are entitled to your preferences.
    Apple is usually the most advertised/known and most costly of the mobile-product manufacturers. There are competitors that manufacture less expensive devices.

    Do you remember a time in which most-people could not afford the cost for cellular phones?.... And then suddenly it was affordable Gannett has to press-forward and pioneer the effort.

    You mentioned digital-revenue and Apple in the same post. Interesting... Because Steve Jobs created a highly profitable business model with the iStore digital-downloads. Steve jobs discussed the success of the iStore... Jobs commented on the success of allowing the consumer to purchase segments of an album by piecemeal... The consumer did not have to purchase the entire volume of the albums. They could purchase items (songs) of interest to create their own library.

  13. Perhaps digital consumers could purchase columns-of-interest among a variety of Gannett content (local & national/usa today). The consumer would be building a custom-tailored digital product. Perhaps one consumer would purchase food, science & technology. While another consumer would just want lifestyle & celebrity news. Life is to short to muddle through content that does not pertain the consumer.

  14. "Life is to short to muddle through content that does not pertain the consumer."

    A lot of 'old media' types want to sell all the media, though. They this this idea that consumers will buy the whole package just for a piece of it.

    I've wanted to buy my TV channels a la carte for years, but since I can't, I just don't subscribe to cable. The cable companies, however, really don't want me to buy a la carte: they want me to buy it all.

    I realize the cable TV metaphor doesn't translate completely to news, but I get the feeling Gannett and other news companies would react in a similar fashion. Why make it easy to buy into a few verticals when the consumer should be buying the whole (more expensive) package?

  15. 10:14,
    I'm not familiar with the Clairon Ledger, but I do know that many companies are cutting back on the square-footage for office space.
    Another option is to consolidate the Gannett properties onto certain floors... And, rent out the other floors to relative businesses (daycare franchises, quick-shops, etc.) A daycare franchise could also benefit the employees that work at the Clarion Ledger.

  16. A "home-style-bakery" with a "daycare center" would be perfect for the surrounding community and Clarion Ledger employees.

    Also, the daycare center could have a contract with an adjacent bakery-facility to provide fresh/healthy lunches to the day-care facility.

  17. 9:49 the quickest way to increase ads is to drop the ridiculous prices they are charged. I'm also not saying digital is a useless endeavor, just that it shouldn't be the ONLY one. There is still a large market for the print edition. Just the fact that anybody still buys the 3 dollar Floriday Today Sunday shows that. As far as our online site...true some stories are new day to day, but there are way too many that linger for days, even weeks. For a media that's supposed to be quicker with more up to date stuff, where's the improvement?

    Put back the relevent content, lower ad prices to make stores/companies WANT to advertise in the paper again, mayeb some of the lost revenue will come back, otherwise the one track only digital way of thinking will surely ruin gannett.

  18. What is the current print-circulation of Florida Today? ... (I just want to think about possible solutions, based on circulation.)

  19. Newspapers still don't know how to sell what they have -- demographics.

    Newspaper readers are better-educated and wealthier than the general population -- and advertisers love that. Features sections that skew female are even more valuable, because women make so many more buying decisions.

    But most papers' ad staffs still just sell bulk eyeballs. And most papers' editorial staffs still find it beneath them to create products or sections designed expressly for women. This goes double for digital.

  20. I see a value in both print and digital formats. I think they appeal to different demographics (age-group & lifestyles).
    Attracting advertisers in this weak economy, is something to reflect on with any product.

    - Maybe a more aggressive sales-campaign which offers a considerable discount on 6-month and 12-month subscriptions. The Washington Post representatives were persuasive, when they were selling subscriptions in the corridor of Bed-Bath-and-Beyond. They teamed up with Bed-Bath-and-Beyond to offer a substantial promotion... I received a $20. BB&B gift card, for a 6-month print-subscription. (I bought myself a crock-pot... Slow-cooking while reading the paper.)

  21. what departments had more buyouts at Florida Today?

  22. My local PBS station had a show on tonight, in which the host had regional newspaper-journalists discussing local politics and answering questions from callers. It was a great show, that showcased the integrity and value of local journalism.

  23. 2:57, "Newspaper readers are better-educated... than the general population?"

    Not with the content they're getting, they're not.

    I've read newspapers all my life, even as a kid. It's why I got into this industry. Later, I was equally enthusiastic about online.

    But the content quality sank. Content sinks, readers disappear -- especially when the "better-educated" get stories more appropriate for fourth-grade social studies.

    Admittedly there has been some improvement; I've seen some really fine journalism lately on my local level after a quite a long drought.

    But while ad staff count eyeballs, the "information" side should as well. No one sees the ads if they stopped reading the paper "because there's nothing it," regardless of the platform.

    This always struck me as a tremendous marketing opportunity to turn around that now extremely common complaint.

    All those edicts from on-high, all those pricey consultants and all those focus groups don't mean a can of beans.

    Instead, corporate marketing, like another planet, comes up with literally meaningless phrases ("Deal Chicken?"), while local marketing is left hamstrung. Shop! Shop! Shop!

    Thanks. But I'll shop after I read the paper, any paper, I bought for the news. An adjunct to every other source I avail myself to. I guess that makes me not "better-educated."

  24. 9:04 PM, it sounds like you definitely fall in the "print-consumer" category. I think it's important to realize that these products (print & digital) will continue to coexist... Simply because of different consumer lifestyle-habits and "how" people "choose" to view content.
    There is also a percentage of people that would subscribe to a bundled-package of both print and digital products... News-junkies that want unlimited access.

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  26. Gannett and probably other papers are playing a shell game with advertisers. Readership seems to blur between digital and print. Do they think advertisers don't go to grocery stores on Sunday or Starbucks during the week to see empty racks at 7:30? It's not because of high demand, it's dramatically reduced draw. Subscriptions? Why would more people subscribe to a product that's a fraction of the depth and quality of what it was and at a higher price. Newspapers are throwing in the towel and are no longer pursuing readers but giving them up to reduce costs. But still charging top dollar to advertisers. In the unfortunately near future, the financial stability of producing a product that buyers are not seeing as a value will coincide with advertisers not accepting unless costs are substantially reduced. And at that time, papers will stop when there's no longer a distribution model that can survive with the revised revenue model.

  27. 9:35,
    That type of language is unnecessary.

    Jim, please consider moving 9:35's offensive comment.

  28. 9:37,
    Ad to content ratio:
    There is a ratio that is used to balance advertisements to content. When the advertisement revenue is low, the editorial-content is reduced according to the ratio.
    (We need to boost the ad-revenue.)

    About the ad-rates:
    The advertisement rates change all the time. The rates are based upon circulation (CPM). So, as the circulation changes, so will the advertising rates. The advertiser always pays based upon the circulation.

  29. @ 9:57, are you serious? Advertisers in our market have never paid based on circulation, the rates are determined at "what the market will bear" and then add about 10%. The 10% was a joke, but it is sort of true. In some markets, they can afford to charge extremely high raes.

  30. The Big Biz professor2/16/2012 11:25 PM

    I agree with both 7:19 and 9:39- I use both platforms to get my news, a smart phone and a print newspaper delivered to the door. Here's the problem:
    1. Gannett's digital delivery system is stone age. Other papers have apps, GCI is still website based.
    2. There is no digital business plan to get more revenue from increased eyes on those platforms. This is an industry wide problem- how to make those banner ads pay the same as a full page or double truck in the print edition.
    3. Charging for content: we charge for print and give away the same content on line. Can you see why print circulation is declining? The wall St. Journal got it right, the erst of the industry is Nero playing a violin concerto while the city burns...

  31. Redfaced Biz Professor2/16/2012 11:27 PM

    erst should read "rest". Time for me to use Gannett's Vision plan...


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