Saturday, August 24, 2013

Here's the full text of Witt's talking points memo

In Lafayette, Ind., Journal & Courier Executive Editor Howard Witt asked employees to use the following to resolve reader complaints when the paper cuts way back on news, opinion and features coverage starting Monday. Here are Witt's sample reader reactions, and suggested responses.

Where’s the TV Grid? I rely on that every day.
The universe of available TV channels is huge these days, and most viewers navigate them using on-screen guides and their TV remotes. We don’t have the space in the daily newspaper to list even a fraction of everything that’s available on TV each day, and it no longer makes sense for us to arbitrarily pick a few channels to show while excluding hundreds of others. We do understand that a small number of readers used the daily TV grid, but we can serve the majority of our readers better by putting that space to other uses. We still offer full TV listings on And coming in the Fall, we will be offering a much better and more comprehensive Sunday TV book that you will be able to add to your subscription.

Where are the stocks? I liked looking at those every day.
The prices for the small number of stocks we had been printing in the paper each day were already old news by the time most readers snapped open their paper over breakfast, because a new day of markets had already begun. Information about stocks and commodities is widely available on the Internet, in real time, and for free. We made a decision to use that space for more coverage of local news and business.

Where is the Business page? It’s missing from my paper today.
Because we must keep our expenses in line with our revenues, it was necessary to make some hard choices about how the newspaper would deploy its reporting resources and use our space. We have reduced the frequency of our Business page to three days a week—Thursday, Friday and Sunday—but we are not ceasing our coverage of local businesses. We will still have lots of local business news coverage on the Business page and in the Local section.

Where is the Opinions page? It’s missing from my paper today.
We are now publishing the Opinions page three days per week, on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Changing to this production schedule will reap benefits for our readers. First, Dave Bangert, the Opinions editor and our popular local columnist, will be able to produce more of the incisive reported columns on hot community topics that are his signature. We’ll also be concentrating our editorials on local topics where our analysis can have the most impact and publishing your Letters to the Editor quickly at And in coming weeks we’ll be launching a blog where members of the Greater Lafayette community who serve on our editorial board will share their considered and thoughtful opinions.

You keep shrinking my newspaper and charging me more for it. What’s up with that?
We’re changing some of our content to give it a sharper local focus in the newspaper and an expanded presence online, at and on smartphones and tablets. Our aim is to give print readers more of the in-depth, community-focused news, features and sports content they consistently tell us they want and that no other news provider in this region can match.

At the same time, we are enhancing the value of the all-access digital subscription that you already have with more and faster local news coverage, engaging videos, helpful news alerts and useful databases.

None of this digital stuff helps me. I don’t use the Internet.
While much of the daily commerce, information and entertainment we all consume has migrated to the Internet, we understand that some readers simply prefer to get their information in printed form. That’s why we still publish a daily newspaper. But that newspaper can only contain a small fraction of all the news and information the Journal & Courier produces each day and publishes online. It’s why access to all our digital products is bundled into your All Access Journal & Courier subscription, and it’s why we encourage you to give our online offerings a try.

Balderdash! I’m cancelling my subscription!
I’m very sorry to hear that, and we will miss you as a subscriber. The truth is, while we regret having to take some things out of the daily newspaper, we are adding back much more valuable content online. So please give a try before you make your final decision.

I want to complain directly to the editor about all of this.
You can reach Executive Editor Howard Witt at, or call him at 765.420.5242. He will also be taking questions from readers during a live web chat on at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 9.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Reads like a poor imitation of The Onion.

  3. Wonder what kind of bull they'll be serving up about the "sharper local focus" when the papers become little wraparounds for a USA Today-produced insert?

  4. less is more....yea....more money in the pocket of people who stop paying....for the print AND online!

  5. I'm actually curious whether your callers actually say "Balderdash." I would have thought they would have been more prone to "malarkey," "hogwash," or "piffle."

  6. I have maintained, and continue to maintain: The Internet is not killing newspapers. Newspapers are killing themselves. This is just the latest example of same.

  7. in order to serve you better, we are cutting back product and charging you more for it.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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