Friday, September 21, 2012

Louisville | Publisher cites higher journalism spending in drive to boost subscription prices

Less than four months after buying out a reported 18 newsroom employees, The Courier-Journal's publisher told a local business group yesterday that the daily needs to recoup rising journalism costs through big subscription price increases.

“We have to charge more for the value of community journalism,” Wesley Jackson told about 240 Rotarians, the Louisville, Ky., paper said in a story.

The story didn't detail those higher costs. Jackson's assertion is puzzling, because the C-J, like every other Gannett newspaper, has in fact slashed newsroom spending over the past four years through large buyouts and layoffs as advertising revenue has plunged.

Indeed, in June, two of the C-J's star sports reporters quit accepted buyout offers to join a rival TV station. They were in addition to among the estimated 18 newsroom workers overall who accepted offers.

Last year, Gannett cut its worldwide employment across all departments 5% from 2010, to 31,000 vs. about 46,000 in 2007.

Circulation revenue soars
Jackson's remarks came the same day senior Gannett executives told a Wall Street conference company-wide circulation revenue is on track to jump 25% next year, contributing to an additional $100 million in profits. The revenue increase is coming via substantial print subscription price hikes as GCI starts charging for digital access for the first time.

CEO Gracia Martore also told the Goldman Sachs media stock analysts conference that Gannett has recently added about 70 newsroom jobs across the company to a journalism workforce she says totals 5,000 employees. Martore did not say where those additional jobs were added, nor what type of jobs they are. (Listen to a conference webcast replay.)

At mid-afternoon yesterday, Gannett's stock climbed to a post-recession high, $19.09, before giving back some of that gain. Shares closed at $18.74, up 45 cents. GCI is now nearly 90% above its year-ago price. Since July 2011, the company also has boosted the quarterly dividend 400% to 20 cents.

In Louisville, Jackson acknowledged some readers were unhappy that the new print subscription prices mandated that readers pay for digital access. Although Gannett is selling digital-only subscriptions with the paywalls, it's not offering print-only subscriptions.

The C-J's weekday circulation is 154,033, and Sunday is 254,685, according to the March 31 ABC report. Jackson was promoted to publisher in April.


  1. Let me get this straight:

    - Gracia says that the subscription revenue is adding to profits.

    - This publisher (and other publishers and editors have made the same argument) says the money is going to the newsroom.

    Who's right? You'd have to bet on Gracia - this is all about profits for Wall Street, not making the product better.


    Uh, Jim, google "medical care costs."

    There's one the big problems.

    You're welcome.

    The underfunded GCI pension fund issue was already blah-blah'd to death.

  3. Stock is up.
    That certainly does not mean revenues are up on the print side.
    Just when you thought things were stable.Too bad.
    It's the TV revenue that is up substantially.
    Those 23 properties can relax.

  4. LOVE T.V.

    It's the TV revenue that is up substantially.
    Those 23 properties can relax.


    Yup. We're about to be bombarded with hate-ads from all sides.

    After Nov. 6th -- head for the fucking hills?

    On Nov. 6th, planning to get rip-roaring drunk with all my pals who have lost their jobs and/or companies. Cannot listen to Andrea Mitchell and David Gergan, one more second. Cannot believe how fucking bad it is.

  5. Cincinnati publisher also cited newsroom as reason for increase


    Why didn't they try "Bush's fault?" Remember than one? He also got the Lindburgh baby, too. And is really D.B. Cooper.

  7. Goober, stay back at the gas station.

  8. 1:26, your team can hand it out, but can't take it?

    If you were a Gannetteer, you'd know what Big Al wrote on Day 1 of USAT: to be a platform for all views.

    GWB has been gone for 3.75 years. If your team can't take it, get out. There are a lot of qualified replacements. You're welcome, and good luck in your new job.

  9. It could be said, Gannett TV is propping up the GCI pension fund, from federal oversight and takeover. NYT probably wishes it had more TV, or something.

    Go TV, go. Time for a "Hunger Games" -- need that market share.

  10. Those higher "community journalism" costs don't automatically translate to front line newsroom jobs as might be implied by the muck-mucks. Instead of spending that money on reporters, photographers and AME's and copy editors, the cash is being spent on middle management types with questionable job titles such as "content Evolution manager". The individual's job consists of top down story idea generating by tearing pages out of other newspapers (how quaint) and leaving them on you desk with a note. And these ideas are tired and hackneyed. Evolution, indeed!

  11. YUP

    " .. The individual's job consists of top down story idea generating by tearing pages out of other newspapers (how quaint) and leaving them on you desk with a note. And these ideas are tired and hackneyed. Evolution, indeed!"

    It is the Gannettoid way. Which is not much different from the old Linotype days, when most of the staff would not read local copy/columnists because the stuff was so predictable/boring/useless/waste of newsprint.

    Another favorite Gannettoid CARPET-BAGGER scam -- do the "history of the community" series.

    Translation: I just moved here, and I don't know squat, so let's bore everyone to death with stuff they already know.

    And, better yet, make some HUGE FUCKING ERROR, like forget to include a major employer or spell a town founder's name wrong.

    Not very profitable.

    Got that written down, Gracia? Good luck, ma'am -- you'll need it.

  12. Correction: C-J sports columnists who left actually resigned after the buyout window closed (therefore no year of salary/benefits)

  13. 12:04 Thank you; I've now fixed that.


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