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How long until we see ....

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Write-brained, Apr 13, 2008.

  1. Sunday weeklies.

    How long until newspapers decide they can cut staff and cut paper costs by doing 24-hour news on the web during the week and then one fat Sunday paper with quick-hits and long stories to go with their ads and coupons?


    Just a thought. Not an appealing one by any means, but I'm just trying to anticipate the next step.
  2. Satchel Pooch

    Satchel Pooch Member

    I wondered that same thing about a year ago (with the proviso that they can also print special editions after big game wins so people have something to pin up on their walls.)

    Why WOULDNT they do this?
  3. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    It's not a terrible idea-I mean, financially. It might appeal to my old paper, a number two daily, as a means of cutting costs. But once again, would the advertisers go for it. You'd be losing a lot of revenue up front-a lot.
  4. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    If the revenue generated by the print paper isn't covering the costs of the infrastructure required to produce the print paper, there will be no alternative.
  5. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    More than a few analysts and newspaper insiders have said the first step will be the demise of Saturday editions of dailies, which creates a lot of efficiencies by itself.

    Some of the departments that currently need to be staffed seven (or at least six) days a week, can be cut back to five days, which means publishers can get rid of positions that existed to allow seven-day staffing.

    Ad-production departments, for instance, spend Friday building the Saturday section and getting a big jump on Sunday and Monday. Without a Saturday paper, they can get the entire Sunday/Monday workload out of the way on Friday and then just staff minimally to handle emergencies on Saturday. Based on what I saw at my last shop, that would be the equivalent of four or more full-time positions that could be eliminated right off the bat.

    Repeat the exercise at the printing plant, in the newsroom and a few other departments and the savings add up. Display advertisers simply shift most of their ads to the Friday or Sunday papers, so that revenue is preserved. Classified advertising would take a hit on private-party ads, etc., but that's a category that's already been ravaged by the Internet -- losing another 15 percent of business there doesn't amount to nearly as much of a blow as it would have 10 years ago.

    I would guess that the six-day publishing schedule could be preserved for several years, followed by gradual reductions to four days a week and then three. Fingers crossed, you're all retired by the time it becomes a Sunday-only business.
  6. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Here's a question, that I'm not sure I understand in the wake of so many cost-cutting moves recently:

    There are so many expenses involved in putting out a daily newspaper. How much percentage of the total expenses of a daily newspaper does payroll/staffing take up? Not just employees' salaries, but the cost of keeping an individual employee on staff (which includes things like insurance coverage, work expenses, etc.)? Are papers that cut staff really saving enough money -- on that expense alone -- to make a difference?
  7. Flip Wilson

    Flip Wilson Well-Known Member

    High school football coverage in these parts sells a lot of Saturday papers, as I'm sure it does in many parts of the country. I wonder if that was taken into consideration by the analysts and insiders.
  8. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    My mother's home town paper actually added a Saturday paper in the last decade, and I would guess it was to placate the rabid high school fans who were just buying the Friday night scores at a different paper.

    I think doing away with the Wednesday paper would be a bad idea. Isn't this the day when supermarkets run new ads?

    I also do not see a 60-something hopping online to check obits every morning, or them checking the church section online.

    In 10-15 years, the future 60-somethings will be much more computer savvy, but IMHO, the current ones just are not.

    So maybe in a decade, we could see these changes.
  9. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    The analysts are all 51/49 guys, which is to say that they'll take a particular side in an argument if 51 percent of the financial data supports it. They look at the big picture and leave it to others to fix the damage (high school school football coverage, for instance) that gets done along the way. Not saying it's right, but that's the way the bottom-liners do it.

    FWIW, though, you have to ask whether 12-14 weeks of high school football is enough justification for publishing 52 Saturday editions.
  10. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    A partial answer to this: The cost of benefits, etc., averages 30-40 percent of salary (depends largely upon the percentage of health-care costs the employee is asked to pay).

    At a former shop of mine, I believe the payroll/benefits accounted for about 40 percent of the company-wide expense budget five years ago. I have heard estimates that the number at other locations hovers closer to 50 percent, which seems unsustainable in my mind.
  11. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    Payroll is, traditionally, a newspaper's single largest expense. Newsprint is No. 2.
  12. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    And don't forget the crossword puzzle ...
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