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Cutting coverage to save money...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by chazp, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    I think we've all heard of some bigger papers dropping coverage of a professional or major college coverage to save money. However, have many smaller papers cut back on prep coverage? I work for a CNHI paper and the higher ups are considering cutting back on some prep coverage beginning with the next school year to save money. We are a 8K biweekly that covers six high schools. Four of those schools are within seven miles of our office. Two other schools we cover are 21 and 23 miles away. A company VP wants us to prepare a report on the advantages/disadvantages of dropping the two schools more than 20 miles away. We have six weeks to submit the report. Besides the milage each way to both schools, the number of subscribers is very low. Each city has less than 300 subscribers. Our four other schools are located in three cities. Each of those cities have more than 1,600 subscribers. Have you gone through this before? Would you recommend we drop the two schools just based on miles and lack of subscribers? We get calls from time to time from both cities about our coverage. I'd hate to drop any school. Seems to me that if we do, the <300 subscribers may would likely become zero in each town wouldn't they? Thoughts.
  2. Rex Harrison

    Rex Harrison Member

    When I quit my last job, I was not replaced. So, they cut coverage down. They didn't drop any schools, but many things were suddenly score only or box only. Just the way it goes.
  3. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Given the less than 300 subscribers, let's say that's 500 total. That's about 6 or 7 percent of your current total subscriber base. It's impossible to know how many of them subscribe just for sports. What's the news coverage situation like out there? Do they bother at all? Even if someone is subscribing for more than just sports, the knowledge that sports coverage has been phased out might make them assume the paper doesn't give a damn anymore, and thereby cause them to drop it.

    So it's 23 miles to the farthest school. That's a 46-mile round trip. Assuming 30 cents per mile, and knowing CNHI, that's generous, that's $13.80 a trip. Say you make one trip a week to each school. That's $27.60 a week for as many as 500 subscribers. That's 5.52 cents a subscriber. If it's getting you 250 subscribers, that's about 11 cents a subscriber. I'd say ask the higher-ups if they'd be willing to pay 11 cents a week for a subscriber. I bet they would.

    But that may not be enough. So you have to decide whether cutting those other two schools will allow you to generate enough coverage to replace those subscribers with others from nearer by. I'm guessing it wouldn't.

    What I would ask is whether it's worth distributing out there at all. If it is, then the paper should provide coverage. I'm guessing it costs more to get the thing out there than it does to get coverage. If they're actually soliciting honest advice, I'd ask them to look at whether they need to be out there at all. If they do, then so do you.
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    It seems like a no-brainer to me. If you've got such low readership of the paper overall in those two areas as compared to the rest of the paper, drop 'em. They won't miss it, anyway.
  5. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I would suggest you present it to management from the other side of the looking glass. How about expanding your coverage out there? If you give them more coverage, that could increase subscribers, which could lead to increased ad revenue.
    Now there are some other variables. Especially if there's a competing paper that also covers those cities.
    But it's a better argument to present than simply not dropping coverage.
  6. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    Chaz: I, too, work for a CNHI paper. A year ago, a staffer was forced to call it quits because of MS. Corporate's hiring freeze meant we could not replace him, meaning our staff was cut by 20 percent.

    The result? We lopped seven schools from our preps coverage area. God, this sucks.
  7. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Maybe you can give reduced coverage, such as calling the coaches after games, an occaisional phone feature, maybe travel to one school perhaps once a month. That way, in case something major breaks, you haven't totally burned the bridge.
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