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Return of the PM as an E-edition?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 2muchcoffeeman, Aug 25, 2021.

  1. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Hope it works over the long term..

    When Rob Curley speaks in public as the editor-in-chief of The (Spokane, Washington) Spokesman-Review, he usually hears about another newspaper.

    “Well, you know, we were a Chronicle family,” people tell him.

    It was a reminder of a time when many cities had more than one newspaper, often one in the morning and another in the afternoon or evening.

    The Spokane Daily Chronicle was Spokane’s evening edition, owned by the same family that owns The Spokesman-Review. The two papers once had two separate newsrooms, separate audiences and fought for scoops. Eventually, the newsrooms merged, and in 1992, the publisher closed the Chronicle, which had fallen from a high of 72,000 print subscribers to about 20,000.

    Almost 30 years later, it came back — in a way. The Chronicle is now an eight-page e-edition for Spokesman-Review subscribers, produced by current Spokesman-Review staff, with fresh content and lots of nostalgia.

    While many legacy newsrooms are working on attracting new subscribers, the Chronicle isn’t a play to build new audiences. It’s meant to keep the audience the 127-year-old paper still has, who’ve seen their subscription costs rise every year. (The average rate is about $1 a day.)

    “We were realists on this,” Curley said. “It wasn’t about how are we going to make this a bigger pie, it was how are we going to hang on to the pie that we have when we know we’re going to continue to push subscription prices?”

    The results?

    “So far, it’s working,” publisher Stacey Cowles told Poynter in an email.

    The Chronicle currently has an average Sunday circulation of 40,000, and 25,000 for weekdays.

    Since launching the Chronicle:

    • The Spokesman-Review’s e-editions have seen a 25% increase overall in users
    • The e-editions saw a 31% increase in new users
    • And the paper had a 41% increase in total pageviews, said Tyler Pisani, digital audience and engagement manager.
    • There’s been a 4.5% increase in activation of digital subscriptions.
    • And, since launching the Chronicle, digital subscriptions have increased by 2.25%. The Spokesman-Review has almost reached 10,000 digital subscribers.
    “… We hope some are those who used to say they’d never ever read us online,” Cowles said. “We hope a few took the plunge and may now consider E reading as rewarding if not more so than paper. Either way, more engagement will help with churn and support hitting our subscription revenue goal.”
    Liut likes this.
  2. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    Spokane is improving the electronic product and seeing better results. I think newspapers are going to have to continue to improve the product to attract more subscribers. But how many papers will be able to do this? Will smaller market papers be able to generate enough additional revenue to offer added editorial material'

    One I have read in earnings calls is that an electronic market is much broader and hence much more competitive than the print market. For example an executive on the Dallas Morning News earnings call said there was basically an impregnable wall a line running between Dallas and Fort Worth and it was almost impossible for with the Star-Telegram or the Morning News to acquire print subscribers on the other side of the line. But he said that in the electronic marketplace that was not true.

    At what point will papers in larger markets that can build better websites take out the smaller papers who are seeing their print revenues continue to decline. That is why, for example, I think Gannett is headed for chapter 11. Their larger papers like the Indianapolis Star will make it. But how many of the smaller papers that Gannett owns in Indiana or elsewhere die along with their circulation base.
    SFIND likes this.
  3. ChrisLong

    ChrisLong Well-Known Member

    Rob Curley is .... is ..... oh, better left unsaid.
    But what the hell. I'm surprised he is still in Spokane. He had modest success with a digital effort in Kansas City at the time when papers were starting to convert. He was hailed as a digital genius when he arrived at OCR. He wasn't. His track record is to show up, kiss the right ass to somehow get promoted, implement ideas that don't work, then bail.
    I Should Coco, Screwball and MileHigh like this.
  4. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    At some point -- five years? 10? -- print will go away. It's expensive to produce and deliver and the resources should be devoted to doing a full-on digital product that looks and feels like a newspaper, but is on your tablet or computer.
    Liut, 2muchcoffeeman and FileNotFound like this.
  5. Local newspaper websites are garbage. Local newspaper newspapers — or e-editions — are mostly great. It's the same content in both places, but there's something to be said for the ease of use in navigating a "newspaper" rather than a website. Hope this model works. I'd hate to see tabloid/broadsheet-designed readers go extinct when the print versions are eliminated.
    Liut likes this.
  6. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    I see your point about e-editions. But the quality of local journalism is depressing. I have traveled a lot this summer and bought a lot of local papers. You look at some and jsut say wtf is going on.

    The worse paper was the Fresno Bee. I bought the Monday paper. The paper had five bylined stories. Two were in sports. The lead sports story was about a local high school baseball team winning their region the Friday before. There was also a story on the high school track and field regionals from the Saturday before. Then there were two features and a brief report on a dead body of a missing man being discovered. Four of the five stories were written by the same guy. The other bylined feature appears to have been left over from the previous week. The sports page still had the Saturday MLB standings with no updates from Sunday day games.

    I bought the paper an hour south of Fresno in Visilia so maybe their was I bought some regional edition but still, why would anyone pay money for this? Why would anyone subscribe to this? And Fresno is a county with a population of one million people.

    Freson was the worst paper I bought but I saw some other truly bad papers. Lubbock, for example, lead sports the day I was there with a story of the minor league hockey team in Amarillo, which is two hours away, hiring a general manager. I don't think anyone in Lubbock cared.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
    Liut, SFIND, MileHigh and 2 others like this.
  7. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Well-Known Member

    If I had someone else's money to lose, I'd turn a morning paper into an evening paper. Heck, places with afternoon deadlines might as well. Think there's something to unwinding the day with curated quality daily pieces.
  8. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    The LA Times recently added an additional Sports page only in its E edition. As a print subscriber, I feel cheated because I pay (a lot) for a daily newspaper. I’m old school, I schedule myself to read the paper when I'm eating breakfast, I don't want to make more time later to find it online. But I got curious and looked for the E edition today and the extra sports page was two soccer stories, so I didn’t miss anything.
  9. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Fresno is a disaster that should be much beter, but it's being bled dry, like so many of its fellow former McClatchy papers, by it's holding compamy. We've talked about it her before, but this is the paper which has spawned Woj, Andy Katz, Carzano and John Branch, to name a few.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    In other words … a Suit.
    HanSenSE likes this.
  11. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I’ve said in here before, but I remember reading somewhere in the late 2000s/early 2010s that the last print newspaper would hit a doorstep around 2030-2031 or so. We’re 9-10 years away and who knows if that timeline was accelerated by COVID?

    I try to go for daily walks, and twice in the last week, I saw a bagged delivered newspaper on a doorstep. And it looked strange to me. That’s how much times have changed. If I see someone with a paper, I’m almost doing a double-take.
    Liut, SFIND and MileHigh like this.
  12. Bud_Bundy

    Bud_Bundy Well-Known Member

    There are six homes in our cul de sac. One of them gets the paper delivered every day. We get Wednesday and Sunday so my wife can check the sales and coupons. Both of us and the other couple are retired and the oldest people on our street. Nobody else has the paper delivered. The Wednesday/Sunday option gives me access to the e-edition and the paywall. I can't remember the last time I sat down and actually read the print product.
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