It was an interesting week in the newspaper field with two papers making further moves to cutting back on print in favor of internet and mobile coverage. The first announcement came from USA Today the relative upstart as papers go at only 28 years of publishing. They announced that they were cutting staff and will focus on mobile instead. Like all newspapers a big reason has been the drop in advertising. As a national paper their biggest advertisers were national in scope and heavily oriented to the travel market. With travel down they suffered big hits in newsstand and hotel sales. Owned by Gannett, they will batten down the hatches on expenses in this move and reduce their content as well. Did I say content, that’s what they call it. Newspaper people don’t say content – it’s news, or at least it used to be.
The second major announcement came from the Deseret News, the Mormon Church owned paper. They are combining forces with their sister TV station, again sharing content and staff. This is resulting in a significant overall reduction in staff on the news side. They are also planning to use a network of community content from community volunteers and bloggers to add to their content base and give the combined operations a more community feel.
The interesting thing about the Deseret News is that it is run by Mark Willes who cut his teeth in newspapers as the Publisher of the LA Times after a career at General Mills. Captin Crunch as he was known at the Times ran afoul of the editorial side and was later relieved by the Chandler family. He is again showing his novel approach to managing and hopefully growing his papers.
This is just one week in the evolving news business. Let’s hope we can still see the news leading the way, and hold that content stuff. News is still the ‘breakfast of champions’ if I can borrow one of Mark Willes old slogans from his cereal marketing days. Content is for sausage making, not news.