Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A new model from Newhouse?

The daily newspaper here has been doing a slow motion death scene for a number of years – one that I think could have been prevented if the right hands were on the steering wheel.

Despite the fact they are our primarily competition, I don't think a metro area the size of Springfield – about a half million – should be without a daily newspaper.

This week, two people – both of whom are reliable, non-gossipy sources – have told me they have been told that The Republican will cease to be in October.

Now this prediction came at the same time I learned The Republican has enacted a pay cut for its staff and laid off four copy editors.

And then my friend Josh Shear pointed to this column.

In essence, columnist Rick Edmonds writes how the Ann Arbor, MI daily is about to close and be replaced with a new business model:
"In several ways, though, the Ann Arbor plan goes further than Detroit or similar cutbacks at the East Valley Tribune in the Phoenix suburbs and hybrid formats at other papers:

The Ann Arbor News, after 174 years, will close as a business.

Its successor,, will be a new Web site, built from the ground up (and therefore supplanting MLive, the current site which serves several Michigan cities with locally tailored editions).

The News's distinctive headquarters, designed by prolific Detroit-area architect Albert Kahn, will be sold. has already taken the ground and top floors in a downtown office building, annoying some by supplanting a popular coffee store.

All the staff is being dismissed. Reporters and editors, whose salaries averaged around $50,000 according to one discussion post, can reapply for the many fewer jobs in the new venture, but the pay scale is being dropped to the mid-$30,000 range for reporters.

The new publication is being called a "print product" not a newspaper. Hints are that the Thursday edition may be light, targeted to weekend planning, Sunday including longer news takeouts."

Now will this be good or bad? Frankly at a time when many people who don't have home computers or high speed access and can't or won't invest in such things with the present economy, I think a combination of web and print makes sense to both advertisers and consumers.

As I have learned time and again from people being paid to study such things, content is king and making sure the content you create reaches a maximum audience through different platforms is the key.

The problem with many dailies that in the rush to shore up profits, they cut content. Or they put their content up on the web for free.

The secret is to know which story or feature is best served by which platform. I don't see that happening very much.

In any event, I know what I'll be doing this summer.

© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Bill Dusty said...


Josh said...

Did you see this on the NY Times looking to charge for mobile content?

Also: won't supplant all of -- just the Ann Arbor edition; the rest of the site will serve other communities (like Flint, as well as a new online-only newsdesk in Detroit, where Newhouse doesn't have a paper).

Jeff Hobbs said...

The 2nd graf needs editing.