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Will Other Newspapers Follow Into The "3 Days a Week!" Publishing Cycle?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Piotr Rasputin, Jun 15, 2012.


Will Other Newspapers Follow Into The "3 Days a Week!" Publishing Cycle?

  1. Yes

    47 vote(s)
  2. No

    5 vote(s)
  3. I don't wanna talk about it! I'm HAPPY!

    2 vote(s)
  4. Newspapers are dead/dying. I get my news from Patch

    0 vote(s)
  5. What's Twitter?

    1 vote(s)
  6. Citizen Journalism is the Future!

    1 vote(s)
  7. I Like Lamp

    5 vote(s)
  8. Mola Ram, Suda Ram

    8 vote(s)
  1. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    I know there has been some discussion of this on the New Orleans and Alabama newspaper threads, but I prefer to leave those threads for discussion of the jobs lost and the people affected.

    So . . .

    What's the consensus here?

    Do the denizens of this fine establishment think this is only the beginning? Will more newspapers follow suit?

    As I posted in one of the threads, the media business is very much a follow-the-leader business. Yes, I know, ideally that's not true and yadda yadda. Other newspapers will see that these people have had the gall to do this, and they'll see if they can get away with it too.

    And they will. If the experience of some of my former colleagues is any indication, the community only gets loud after the newspaper has already been gutted. The same people who no longer buy the hard copy suddenly make speeches about how important the newspaper is to the fabric of the community.

    But I digress.

    It's not a matter of whether this move is "successful" for any of these newspapers, at least as we want to define success here. I know there are some on those threads who wonder - as many seem to every time something like this happens - just HOW management thinks this will entice readers or advertisers to stick with them.

    I would argue that they don't think either of those things will happen.

    To those who make the decision to publish three days a week and cut staff to obscene levels, "success" only means being to stand up at the next fiscal meeting and say "We managed to preserve the profit margins!" There is only a plan for today and tomorrow. There is no plan for the next day. When it's time to again bolster/sustain projections, they'll just find some other way to cut.

    None of this is designed to make the product look good. Only the numbers, and only for the immediate future.
  2. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I suspect we will have to wait a year or more to get a better idea of how this will pan out.

    If it is a financial success, others will likely follow. If not, then no.

    If they can get 80 percent of the advertising (display and classified) into three editions per week and save on the production and delivery costs, more power to them. Or if they suddenly find a way to make money via internet sales and subscriptions, then bravo.

    If they lose their advertiser and subscriber base and destroy what limited revenue they currently have, then I suspect either they or someone else will come up with an alternative.

    It is NOT, and has never been, about journalism, per se, or serving a community. People can get the news from many different sources. The biggest expenses killing newspapers were not in the newsroom. So we'll see if they can do better off financially this way, the same way magazines have done for years.
  3. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    I don't know. Nothing surprises me anymore.

    It's going to take someone brilliant to figure out this mess.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I would assume a lot of papers will copycat this. A few will draw the correct lessons, most will not.
  5. Yes, we will see more newspapers cut back on their print schedule, whether it's 3 days a week, or 5, or 2.

    The corporate suites are full of copycats. Once they see one outfit try something, you can bet there will be followers. Witness combined editing centers, shared circulation/distribution and furloughs (a concept that would have been unthinkable only a decade ago).

    Once a method is tried somewhere, it becomes the new baseline. So, yes, we will see more contraction -- in printing, newsroom jobs, and, of course, circulation. Because it probably hasn't occurred to the suits yet, but fewer editions means less news in the paper.
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    It will save them a shitload of money and since that's all the publisher's care about these days I can't imagine that the bulk of the country won't follow.

    I don't think you're going to see this is any of the really big cities. I know New Orleans did it, but I can't imagine them going to this format at any of the NYC, Boston, Washington, Philly or Chicago papers and probably not LA or the Bay Area either. I also think in communities where readers tend to be older, this might not go over well, so I'm guessing the Florida papers might not do it either.
  7. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    An easier and by far cheaper model is to dump home delivery and go with the mail.

    You do two editions. The first with an early deadline that makes it to the post office in time. The second is a late but only goes in the boxes.

    On Saturday the early stuff for Sunday gets dumped in.

    So you basically lose a day but you cut most of the circ department as a result.
  8. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    If publishers could have gotten away with eliminating the expensive and labor-intensive process of printing and delivering newspapers, they would have done it decades ago.

    Now that a few fools "leaders" have stuck their toes in the water, no one else is afraid to drown, either.

    My prediction is by 2015, more than half the "daily" newspapers will put out only three print editions a week. A few big boys at the top and some of the smallish town papers that serve aging communities will be the holdouts.

    Leaving out the "good journalism" problems with this, my biggest fear from a business standpoint is once people adjust their morning routines, they'll realize they don't need a printed newspaper ANY day of the week, except maybe on Sunday.
  9. accguy

    accguy Member

    I can't imagine that other companies won't do the same. Over the past five years or so, most of the newspaper leadership in this country has been copycat in nature.

    First you started to see a tightening of budgets, especially travel, and you see fewer and fewer papers covering big national events.

    Then there were layoffs that started in a few places and then expanded to virtually every corner of the country.

    Then came the war on copy editors in which desks where whacked like crazy all over the place.

    Then after the NYT had success with a metered online paywall, that is become more and more of the norm.

    The Michigan papers became the first to go to reduced print publications and now Newhouse has expanded that. I think we will see much more of that. I'm willing to wager a small amount of money that 36 months from now, we'll see that at least one of the bigger chains has cut back in print coverage to less than seven days a week. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see somebody go to a model where you essentially turn your Saturday paper into your Sunday paper, call it a weekend edition, stuff it with ads and more copy and then not have a Sunday paper.

    Yes, I most certainly voted yes.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I actually can see more papers just going whole-hog and simply becoming weeklies, instead of three-day-a-weeklies.

    The latter seems to me kind of a stop-gap, compromising solution that is akin to senior citizens who are, say, generous and make bunches of donations and are pretty extravagant in their gift-giving in their early older years, and then gradually give and do less and less as their incomes and savings dwindle as the years pass. Publishing three days a week will do nothing in the long run except be inconsistent in terms of the coverage, and, as someone else mentioned, it will hard on readers' routines/habits, not to mention those of the newspapers' employees when it comes to doing their work

    It would probably be more straightforward, organized and sustainable to just be a weekly if it came to that. There are some good quality weeklies out there, and even some really small, tab-sized local weeklies that are full of good local news. And that is what people will be almost entirely looking for in local print editions of newspapers soon, anyway.
  11. apeman33

    apeman33 Well-Known Member

    We'll be one of those small-town papers fighting to stay 5 days a week (We don't do Sunday or Monday), which may have been reinforced by the weekly that poppoed up 2 1/2 months ago. Our pub is looking to do things that will draw in younger readers, becoming graphic-heavy with more color. At least they finally put up some sort of paywall, which the Topix yahoos are going off about.
  12. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    That's been my thought since the first talk of prominent dailies going to a non-daily format. It would be a more logical transition to turn the print product into a weekly publication filled with stories that generally had a longer shelf life to them -- columns, longer features, the like. Little content that would be rendered obsolete within 48 hours of publication. Use a sturdier stock that allowed it to maintain its structural integrity longer than today's newspaper, and send that puppy out on Sunday chock full of Best Buy circulars and Safeway ads. Sports would have a tougher go of it, since the weekend is so important. But as you point out, a weekly is more sustainable than a seemingly random publication schedule.
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