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Tough days ahead for Seattle Times?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BigSleeper, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

  2. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    This was interesting:

    "The only hope a metropolitan daily newspaper has to survive through the remainder of this decade is to recreate itself into a much lower cost and more nimble organization.""
  3. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    So they're making $200 mil a year on ads and can't find a way to say in biz. Fuck them.
  4. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    I don't think they have a problem making $200 mil. I think they have a problem making $200 mil on a paper budgeted (and planning for, and hiring for) a $270 mil profit.

    The problem isn't how much they make, it's that they way overspent during the economy boom
  5. Rumpleforeskin

    Rumpleforeskin Active Member

    I was talking to someone a little while ago from the Times and they said they were entrenched in a bitter winner-take-all battle. Maybe this is the climatic finish.
  6. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    They're still making a profit, I bet. Probably only six percent instead of 22.
  7. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    Of course they're making a profit, but tot them, the profit doesn't justify the "overspending" for the product. Clearly, they think the product is fine being inferior, as long as the bottom line isn't tremendously affected.

    Not justifying it, just trying to explain it a bit, under my understanding.
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    See how simple it is, yet all the decision-makers remain in denial: Your revenues drop dramatically because people -- advertisers and readers -- now treat you as optional (or worse). You respond by cutting right and left, preserving as much profit margin as possible this year while giving them an even lesser product moving forward.

    Is that going to make you more vital or less vital to the advertisers and readers than you were a year earlier?

    Freaking death spiral.

    Only way to pull out of it -- if you're serious about producing a newsprint version -- is to suck up the single-digit profits for a few years and improve and enhance the product for your advertisers and readers. Not surprisingly, you don't do that by purging your most experienced talent via buyouts/layoffs, slashing your journalistic ambitions via budget and space cuts or making your paper's impact "smaller" by covering suburban village boards and high school stuff at the expense of enterprise news, features and sports. (I'm talking metro markets like Seattle here.) Maybe this is no solution, but isn't it a better alternative than knee-jerk cutting and slashing?
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Well, when the Seattle Times was trying to get out of the JOA (and thus kill the Post-Intelligencer), it claimed it lost money every year from 2000-2005. Meanwhile, the P-I claimed the Seattle Times' losses were deliberate, the result of a newsroom hiring spree, in order to be able to void the JOA. They were banking on a monopoly, and they didn't get one. And now that revenue is down, as it is most places, there they are.
  10. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    I have a hard time believing that $70 million can solely be pinned on hiring more bodies.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I didn't say that and neither did the story. It said print advertisng revenue had declined from $270 million in 2000 to $200 million in 2007.

    Interesting chart at the bottom of this itemizing the Times' losses and newsroom expenditures from 2000-2005:


    Point is, hiring more bodies didn't improve the bottom line. We can say it would, theoretically, but the folks running the Seattle Times can point to the figures and say, "We tried that, and it didn't work." Now whether that money was spent the right way is a question, but even if their motives were evil (trying to screw the Post-Intelligencer out of the JOA), they did spend the money and revenue didn't grow.
  12. Duck_n_cover

    Duck_n_cover New Member

    The problems at the Times go much deeper, as everyone might suspect. For instance, they have had almost 100% turnover in the ad department in the past three years. Why? An inexplicable, draconian sales goal process that punishes good salespeople with ever higher targets. You can't hope to keep advertisers on board when they can't recognize your sale team.

    Also, the Times has separated the print and online ad teams, ostensibly to keep the Guild out of the "new media" areas of the paper. The problem is this: If an advertiser wants to buy both print and online, they have to bring in TWO salespeople.

    These are just boneheaded business decisions, which I saw a lot of when I was in newspapers.
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