Archive for January, 2010

Charlotte Observer cuts 25 positions

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The Charlotte Observer, McClatchy’s largest newspaper in the Carolina, announced the elimination of 25 positions today.

The cuts are involuntary and will include 11 full-time positions in the newsroom. Departing employees will receive buyout packages, the newspaper said.

Publisher Ann Culkins blamed declining revenue and “a difficult local economy.”

Earlier this month, McClatchy announced layoffs of more than 85 people at its newspapers in Raleigh, Sacramento, Columbia, S.C., Fort Worth, Texas, and Anchorage, Alaska.

Magazine publishers optimistic

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Magazine publishers Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst Magazines expect advertising to be “up or at least flat through March,” Crain’s New York Business says.

The report also says “advertisers that had been focused primarily on the Web are coming back to print. Automakers in particular have rediscovered magazines as they plan new model launches this year.”

Publishers Information Bureau says ad pages across the industry fell 26 percent in 2009, and ad revenue slid 18 percent.

Analyst sees newspaper real estate ads growing

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Spending on real estate ads in newspapers is projected to rise 16 percent in 2010 after falling a staggering 34 percent last year, says a new report from local ad analyst Borrell Associates.

PaidContent.org explains: “In looking over the real estate landscape, Borrell notes that almost a quarter of homeowners owe more than their house is worth and one in seven mortgages is delinquent. On the commercial side, office vacancy rates are rising by 11 percent while rents are declining 12 percent, and fewer than 10 percent of troubled commercial loans are being resolved. That will continue to place pressure on the category’s ad spending for the next few years.

“Focusing on this year, media segments that have generally been perceived as weak — newspapers and broadcasting — are set to do better. Conversely, those that have been otherwise least affected by the economic downturn — cable and online — are poised to do worse.”

Online ads will pull in less because real estate advertisers are dropping display ads for paid search, which is less expensive. This “portends more tough times for newspaper Web site classifieds’ attempts to capture a larger portion of those online ad dollars,” the report says.

Interactive TV commercials show strong results

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Interactive television commercials — through which viewers could click on their remotes to receive more information, product samples or gift certificates from the advertisers — worked better than expected in a trial last fall in the northeast, Advertising Age says.

Cablevision ran the trial with ads from Gillette, Benjamin Moore, retailer Century 21, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive Co. and its 3.1 million subscribers in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area.

“Responses were strong enough that the campaigns were taken off the air after an average of half their scheduled runs after advertisers were caught low on promotional inventory, according to Cablevision and marketers,” Ad Age says.

“The campaigns’ results suggest that TV can in fact deliver Web-like metrics and interactive opportunities — and that consumers are willing to use their TVs like computers.”

‘E&P’ back in business, top editors not

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc., publisher of several well-respected boating magazines and newspapers, has bought and rescued Editor & Publisher magazine, the 126-year-old newspaper industry journal abruptly closed in December.

The new owners announced plans to publish a February print issue and continue the magazine’s monthly print publication schedule, the magazine’s Web site reported. Online reporting on the site, editorandpublisher.com, began immediately upon the close of the transaction Thursday.

Editor Greg Mitchell and senior editor Joe Strupp are out, and Mark Fitzgerald, a 26-year veteran, was named E&P’s new editor. He had most recently served as E&P’s editor-at-large.

More McClatchy papers announce layoffs

Friday, January 15th, 2010

After The News & Observer and the Sacramento Bee opened the week by announcing the elimination of 46 jobs between them, more McClatchy papers followed: The State of Columbia, S.C., announced Tuesday it was laying off 12 in its newsroom and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said Thursday it would layoff 28 employees and eliminate 17 open jobs. Also on Tuesday, the Anchorage Daily News announced an undisclosed number of job cuts.

The Sacramento Business Journal on Monday said McClatchy, the owner of 30 daily newspapers,  has cut a total of 4,150 jobs since June 2008 – an average of 138 per newspaper.

Few interested, fewer want to buy online news

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Few Americans are willing to pay for newspaper content online, and fewer than half read a daily paper in print or online anyway, a new Harris Poll finds.

Among more than  2,000 adults surveyed online in December, 77 percent said they wouldn’t pay anything to read newspaper content online, according to CNET. The survey found 19 percent willing to pay $1 to $10 a month, but only 5 percent who would spend more than $10 each month.

Ten percent of respondents said they never read a newspaper, and only 43 percent said they read one daily either in print or online.  About 72 percent get around to it once a week, and 81 percent manage to pick up a paper at least once a month.

“One factor in the decline of the daily newspaper is age,” the CNET report says. “The younger you are, the less interested you seem to be in reading the daily news.” Among respondents age 55 or older, 64 percent said they read a paper daily.

Also, “Following last year’s trend, more newspapers are likely to either shut down this year or change to a new business model, notes Harris. But if people won’t pay to read news online, the challenge remains for news outlets to find another way to survive.”

Magazines lost fourth of ad pages in ’09

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Magazine advertising dropped by a whopping 25 percent in 2009, the worst performance in a decade of keeping track, according to figures from the Magazine Publishers of America quoted in The New York Times earlier this week.

In 2001, when the country was hit by a 911-inspired recession, American magazines’ ad pages declined by 17.2 percent from the previous year.

“There were few winners in 2009, but those that retained advertising tended to be mass-market magazines that ran recession-compatible content and ads,” the NYT report says.

‘Brides’ wants newlyweds, too

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Brides magazine is adding postnuptial content to extend the brand’s shelf life and advertising opportunities, Media Week says.

“A new home section and feature called Merge and Purge will be aimed at the posthoneymoon reader and nonendemic advertisers in beauty, finance, fashion and other categories,” the report says. “It will also add a news section to cover products and trends, as well as more coverage of ‘real brides.'”

The publisher also plans more sex-related content in Brides along the lines of what used to appear in sister mag Modern Bride.

But, “nonendemic advertisers have historically shunned bridal books because of their high reader turnover. One endemic buyer was skeptical of the plan, noting that wedding magazines are mostly read for the ads. Should Brides succeed, it risks alienating advertisers who only want to reach women who are in the throes of wedding planning, the buyer added.”

Brides, which starts the expanded content with its February issue, is the survivor after owner Conde Nast folded two of its three bridal magazines last fall.

N&O eliminates 21 positions, SacBee axes 25

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The News & Observer announced the elimination of 21 positions this morning, including 10 from the newsroom. The Sacramento Bee, another McClatchy newspaper, announced the elimination of 25 positions.

The reductions represent “the latest cuts as the media company rides out a sharp decline in revenue,”  The N&O’s report says.

In a memo to the newsroom, Managing Editor John Drescher said five newsroom employees in single-incumbent jobs — meaning they are the only ones who do their jobs — were told today their last day at the newspaper will be January 29. In addition, five employees from  photo, design, copy editing and news research must come forward to have their positions eliminated or staff members will be let go according to seniority.

“We continue to operate in a time of great challenge at The News & Observer, at The McClatchy Company and within the newspaper industry,” N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III said in his announcement to staff. “While we have already implemented a number of cost-control and reorganization measures, revenues continue to show losses, and we must reduce our expenses until we are again showing growth.”

In December, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt said all of the company’s daily papers were making a profit. Pruitt also said at the time that more cost reduction, in the high-20 percent range, would be necessary in 2010.

In addition to the ongoing decline of the newspaper industry, McClatchy has been burdened by about $2 billion in debt acquired mostly in its  2006 acquisition of Knight Ridder. The company has wiped out some $1.4 billion of the debt over the last four years, according to a previous Editor & Publisher report.

The N&O has 524 full-time positions today, down from 704 a year ago, according to the newspaper’s report about today’s layoffs. The newspaper last year also cut wages, suspended contributions to retirement plans and required unpaid furloughs for its staff.

Last year, The N&O had layoffs or buyouts in April and August, after a previous round in October 2008 and various other jobs eliminated earlier.

Quarles told his reporter today that it’s too soon to say whether there could be more cuts this year, a decision that will hinge mostly on how much ad sales rebound.

“I know that these announcements are distracting and disruptive, and I apologize for that,” Quarles’ e-mail said. “We can only ask, with utmost respect and gratitude for all that you do, that everyone stays focused and continues to work hard to help our company continue to make its way through these difficult times.”

“This is another sad day,” Drescher said.

McClatchy restructured a portion of its debt in December and has seen its stock price double since.  It rose 25 cents Monday, topping $5 to settle at $5.14 a share at closing.

“When it announces its latest earnings next week, McClatchy is expected to report that fourth-quarter revenue fell by a percentage in the low-to-mid-20s, compared with a 28 percent drop in the third quarter,” The N&O today.