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On the front step or online, there's no place like home for newspapers

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | 12:53 p.m. CST; updated 1:54 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dear Reader,

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News issued a release this month that said the papers were limiting print home delivery to Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

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“The dynamics of delivering information to audiences has changed forever due to technology,” Free Press Publisher Dave Hunke said in the release. “Today, consumers are more empowered than ever before. In order to serve them well, we must find ways to be more nimble. That means we have to change the way we deliver that news – not just in subtle ways, but in fundamental ways.”

The Examiner in Independence, the Klamath Falls (Ore.) Herald and News and the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald will drop their Monday print editions starting next month, according to newspaper trade Web sites.

Everywhere you look, newspapers are looking for answers.

The Missourian received its version earlier this week when MU Provost Brian Foster renewed the university’s commitment to this newspaper. It came with an expectation that this newspaper will reduce costs by some $350,000.

That’s a lot of money. Print readers will lose their Saturday and Monday publications. I was relieved, though, considering the drastic cuts in funding expected from the state to universities.

The double whammy of recession and disruptive technology (the Web) has left newspaper companies with drastically reduced bottom lines.

In a few cases, the once amazingly profitable industry has seen companies collapse. (The most eye-popping case was the Tribune Co., owner of newspapers in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities. But its owner, Sam Zell, may have wound up in bankruptcy even in less traumatic times.)

Meanwhile, the TriCityNews of Monmouth County, N.J., and its 3.5 employees is doing just fine with print. The New York Times’ David Carr quotes the publisher, Dan Jacobsen, as saying: “Why would I put anything on the Web? I don’t understand how putting content on the Web would do anything but help destroy our paper.”

Walter E. Hussman Jr. also is bullish on print. He’s the CEO of WEHCO Media, which operates 12 daily and 12 weekly newspapers and 13 television companies.

When he visited Columbia earlier this month, he talked with well-deserved pride about the growth of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where he is publisher.

Hussman does just about everything different. He’s charging for stories on the Web. His newspaper delivers across the state, while newspapers in places like Des Moines, Iowa, and Raleigh, N.C., have withdrawn their geographic reach.

Who is right?

Who knows?

Stay tuned.


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Comments

Ayn Rand December 24, 2008 | 2:40 p.m.

When is the Missourian going to make a serious effort to monetize its Web site? I rarely see anything besides house ads. If the Missourian site is seeing traffic growth comparable to big-city papers' ( www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/ar... ), then the lack of ads means that a lot of money is being left on the table.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 24, 2008 | 2:59 p.m.

Google Adsense makes good sense if you want to try and recover a little bit of money.

(Report Comment)

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