Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Evening news shows losing viewers

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The big three broadcast networks’ evening news shows lost more than 1 million viewers between them over the course of the past year, TV Newser said today.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams lost 440,000 viewers (-140k in A25-54 demo) compared to Q2 2009, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer (Charlie Gibson was anchor in 2009) lost 260,000 viewers (-80k in the A25-54 demo), and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric lost the most, based on a percentage, losing 340,000 viewers (30k in the A25-54 demo) compared to Q2 2009.

World News and Evening News also saw their lowest averages ever for the first three months of 2010.

You’re in good company here

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Thought we’d note that we’ve been noted.

Editor & Publisher picked up on our post last week about The N&O’s Living in Style magazine folding, posting a synopsis on its Web site and in the Fitz & Jen blog.

McClatchy Watch, which we check regularly, has added us to its blogroll. “Go there for good info on the newspaper business and other media, plus developments at the N&O,” it says.

And elsewhere, outdoors writer Danny Bernstein gave our sister blog, This Land, Your Land, a shout-out at Mountain Xpress. This Land, Your Land is a companion to our Carolina Outdoors Guide, a comprehensive directory of federal and state public recreation lands in North Carolina.

Thanks, everybody.

Glad to have you, Sarah

Friday, November 20th, 2009

“I read Newsmax and the Frontiersman and The Wall Street Journal and everything online,” [Sarah] Palin said Wednesday night in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Oh, no:  it’s our 100th post and it’s simply a cheap shot at a political hack. Ah, well.

N&O’s Living in Style breathes its last

Monday, November 16th, 2009

livinginstyleWake County subscribers to The News & Observer last Friday received  the final issue of Living in Style magazine, a bi-monthly published by the newspaper since 2006. Jim McClure, vice president for display advertising, told his staff in an e-mail this morning that, “Given our focus on Print & Deliver [a preprint insert program] and Yahoo sales, and taking into account the staffing changes that have recently taken place … [and] in light of the economic pressures on our building and home furnishings customers” the company will discontinue publication of the magazine.

All but one of Living in Style’s staff members left the company through layoffs and buyouts this year, and the publication itself, which once had a circulation of 87,000 per issue, has dwindled from a high of 92 pages in May/June 2007 to 32 in the past week’s November/December issue.

Living in Style was a huge undertaking by The N&O’s Display Advertising Department, setting out to publish a lifestyle magazine that would capture revenue being lost to other glossies produced in the Triangle. It was headed by the local advertising manager, and staffed by a single writer/copy editor – the author of this blog – in addition to a creative manager, design staff and ad sales representatives. Freelancers were enlisted for photography and additional coverage; staff members eventually took over most photography duties.

Each issue presented a cover feature about a large home, a food feature with recipes, seasonal fashion, a gardening feature, a trio of first-person artist profiles, a books column, a short travel article and a lengthy events calendar. When page count allowed, additional features focused on consumer technology and general home/décor topics. It pursued stories from across the state in addition to the Triangle, and was well-received from the start.

After two issues in 2006, the four planned for 2007 became six as the contribution that additional issues would make to all-important fourth-quarter revenues became apparent.

By 2008, the company had established the Niche Publications Division, with Living in Style on a bi-monthly schedule; a quarterly called About Downtown Raleigh published in cooperation with the Downtown Raleigh Association; skirt! Magazine, the local franchise of an established women’s monthly based in Charleston, South Carolina; and a local semi-annual edition of Carolina Bride, which had for years been published by The Charlotte Observer, a sister newspaper.

A talented young journalist was hired to write and edit skirt! and Carolina Bride, and the new division had three dedicated sales reps, a creative/design staff of three and an administrative aide, in addition to Living in Style’s writer/editor and the ad manager now dubbed the director of niche publications and new business development (with a mandate to develop a fifth publication by year’s end). Later in the year, a veteran newspaper editor was brought in under the director as publisher, bringing the staff to 11.

The parent McClatchy Company proclaimed that it was looking toward its newspapers’ niche publications as a reliable and growing revenue source, and N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III backed that sentiment at a company gathering and in a newspaper ad. But consensus among the advertising department was that department management didn’t support Living in Style, seeing it as simply one more product among nearly a dozen with sales goals to be met. Meanwhile, advertising department staff openly opined that Living in Style should be written by a woman instead of the 40-something man assigned to the job.

When the economy turned in late 2008, the fortunes of The N&O and its Niche Publications Division quickly followed. About Downtown Raleigh, which had never caught on, had become an insert in Living in Style and was discontinued at year’s end. Carolina Bride could not compete successfully with established local bridal magazines, and the Winter 2009 edition was its last. One of the division’s three sales reps and its administrative aide were reassigned. In April 2009, the skirt! editor and the creative manager were laid off (the latter after 18 years with the company), and the division’s publisher became the skirt! editor. The two sales reps were told that one had to take a buyout, and the second resigned rather than live with a pressure-packed situation, leaving all sales to the department at large. Living in Style’s distribution was cut to 57,000 as an additional cost-savings measure.

Some 90 days later, I was laid off, as was the skirt! editor/publisher and one of the two remaining designers. The division director, who over the course of the previous year was also assigned to direct Classified Advertising, was re-assigned as a territory ad manager, and the remaining publication designer was transferred to the artists’ pool for the newly merged (Display, Classified and Online) advertising department.

The layoff orders came from the vice president(s) in charge of the advertising department(s) with no consultation with those below them. The niche publications director said in April that “there is no plan” moving forward. She also said at the time that Living in Style was “making good money for this company.” In August, she said she didn’t know how they’d continue to publish nor for certain that she was still in charge of magazines.

It was understood that Living in Style wasn’t making revenue goals and, as the economy sank, advertising dwindled steadily. The 32-page June/July 2009 issue just managed to cover its costs when a full-page ad came through at the last minute. Managers quickly decided to cancel the August/September and October/November issues and pin hopes on a year-end issue bolstered by holiday advertising. It proved a futile expectation as the company moved forward with additional buyouts in November. This round fell most heavily on advertising staff, including the niche publications director, Living in Style’s last advocate.

Living is Style was a lightweight publication, by design providing “fluff,” as the division director put it. But it was written and designed well, and not entirely without useful information. Despite the “advertising supplement” tag that publications of the advertising department must carry, it was not advertorial, as many assumed. (The final issue, produced without a writing staff, carried advertorial for its back-page travel feature and in an article by the president of the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors – who quotes himself in the story!) It also benefited from distribution inside home-delivered copies of The N&O, as opposed to other local magazines that sit in stores and may or may not go any farther. This was supposed to make the publication more attractive to advertisers.

The magazine was hurt by a poor online presence, in which images of pages were reproduced instead of a true Web site. The division director, in response to my suggestion that Living in Style needed a stronger online presence, replied that “by definition” Niche Publications were print. “We’re doomed,” I thought to myself. The head of the N&O’s online division, in response to the same suggestion, said it had “been decided” that the page-image setup was “good enough.” The good-enough setup went through at least three different vendors. The last was more user-friendly than the earlier ones, but only the first provided functioning links for URLs printed in the magazine. (I always enjoyed giving people the address and telling them to be sure to remember the “nc,” because goes to a much different magazine.)

Skirt! magazine’s local edition (which has had a strong online presence through its parent firm and its editors’ efforts) lives on under the direction of The N&O’s head of community papers and features, at least in part because The N&O signed a 10-year contract to publish it.

Why copy editors?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

2009starmemoFollowing up on last week’s announcement that the Toronto Star was outsourcing its copy editing because it is not a “core function” of the newspaper, a Star editor has marked up Publisher John Cruickshank’s memo announcing the changes and passed it along to the Torontoist. (Get the whole thing at a legible size at the second link above.)

(We saw this first at McClatchy Watch.)

San Francisco Chronicle bets on glossy look

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The San Francisco Chronicle, with circulation falling faster than any other major U.S. newspaper’s, will become the first general-interest daily to print its editions on high-quality glossy paper on Monday, the Associated Press reports.

The Chronicle will use glossy paper on the front page, on most other section fronts and on some inside pages. On Sundays, the main news sections and several other sections will be glossy, the San Francisco Business Times says.

The move is primarily an appeal to advertisers who like how much better their ads reproduce on glossy paper in comparison to newsprint. That appeal is partly behind the birth of so many local and regional magazines in the several years before the bottom fell out of the economy and print media.

The downside is that glossy paper is more expensive, but the Chronicle “confirmed it has secured some advertising commitments for the new glossy format, [though] it would not provide details or discuss the paper’s costs,” the AP says.

Mark Adkins, the Chronicle’s president, told the Business Times that “the move ‘is a consumer play as well as an advertising play,’ responding to demands on both fronts for better quality reproduction. Without naming names, Adkins said that some advertisers who are now playing ball with the Chronicle wouldn’t before. They shunned newspaper ads because ‘they don’t deliver the brand image they require,’ he said — an obstacle the Chronicle’s new paper removes.”

“The paper’s executives have been quoted in many venues lately as saying the Chronicle now makes a profit some weeks, others not … (but) Adkins told the Business Times that the Chronicle expects to make a profit every week in November and December” with the addition of glossy pages.

“The Chronicle is sprucing up just as two of the nation’s three largest newspapers are aggressively courting the San Francisco Bay area’s affluent residents and high-end advertisers,” the AP says. “The New York Times introduced a special Bay area edition last month and The Wall Street Journal is launching one on Thursday.” (See our previous post.)

The folks in the tourism bureau say ‘thanks’

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The AP report about the shooting in Mount Airy found a cheap, easy theme and could not let go.

Mount Airy, as most North Carolinians know, was the model for the fictional town of Mayberry in “The Andy Griffith Show,” a 1960s sitcom that is still popular in syndication. The town plays up the connection for its tourism draw.

For a 16-paragraph story about an ex-con charged in four fatal shootings that police say could be a contract killing or the result of a love affair, the version of the story on the Charlotte Observer’s Web site refers to the TV show in the lede, in the third paragraph and again in the fifth paragraph.

The shooting victims are ID’d as Victor Alfonso Martinez-Jimenez, 22; Javier Manuel Martinez, 21; Juan Manuel Martinez, 26; and Marcos Oviedo Aguliar, 21. The suspect is Marcos Chavez Gonzalez, 29.  You think these guys were big fans of the show?

Perhaps a copy editor, if there weren’t too few of them still employed, could have  pared the reporter’s references down to one in the fifth graph, say, to help readers place what is otherwise a small town in the northwestern corner of the state.

I’m assuming the story ran pretty much as the reporter wrote it; it may have been a line editor who botched it up. For that matter, the copy editor who wrote the headline couldn’t resist a Mayberry reference either. Lame.

And so it has come to this …

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

This is not what we’re about here, but some stories can’t be ignored: “Details are sketchy, but numerous witnesses [at The Washington Post] report that veteran feature editor Henry Allen punched out feature writer Manuel Roig-Franzia on Friday,” reports the Washingtonian. “The fracas took place in sight of Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli’s office. Brauchli rushed to separate the two. …

“It should be noted that Allen is nearly 70, but he served in the Marines in Vietnam. He also won a Pulitzer prize in 2000 for criticism. Both apparently came into play when Allen jumped Roig-Franzia.”

Allen apparently told another reporter, in response to an article handed in, “This is total crap. It’s the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years.” Roig-Franzia happened by and supposedly said, “Oh, Henry, don’t be such a cocks—–.”

“Veteran Style writers said they knew Allen wasn’t happy,” the report continues. “He had come up in Style’s heady days, when writers could wax for a hundred inches on the wonder of plastic lawn furniture or the true meaning of the Vietnam War Memorial. No more. Working part time on contract, Allen seethed over the lost art of long-form journalism.”

McClatchy cutting costs, not earning

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

News & Observer owner McClatchy Co. is claiming a 3rd quarter profit, saying it earned $23.6 million, or 28 cents per share, while revenue fell 23 percent to $347 million, with ad revenue down 28 percent. Excluding “special items,” McClatchy’s profit was $11 million, or 13 cents a share, in the latest three months.

The profit is based on cutting costs by 29 percent, mostly through layoffs and buyouts, which are ongoing.  The N&O in Raleigh announced a new round of buyouts Tuesday and two other McClatchy papers announced similar cuts the day before.

How do you sustain a company with “profits” based on eliminating workers?

“The advertising declines we’ve experienced show some signs of slowing, but the ad environment remains weak overall,” McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt says. “As a result, we expect print advertising revenues to continue to decline in the fourth quarter. So far in October, we’re seeing advertising revenue trends similar to the third quarter.

“We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. As long as we are experiencing revenue declines, we must maintain a tight rein on expenses. We expect to hold costs down in the mid-twenty percent range in the fourth quarter.”

Other 3Q numbers: Circulation revenues were up 6.7 percent. Online advertising revenues grew 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and were 17.6 percent of total advertising revenues compared to 12.2 percent of total advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2008.

In his memo announcing buyouts Tuesday, N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III said the “Big 3” in Classified advertising were continuing to hurt the firm. The 3Q reports shows  employment advertising (want ads) down 59.7 percent, real estate down 42.9 percent and automotive down 34 percent year-to-year.

Meanwhile, “Shares of McClatchy (which topped $4 Wednesday but began dropping immediately Thursday morning) and other publishers leaped in the quarter as investors bet that the worst effects of the recession were over for the newspaper industry,” says the Associated Press.

Washington Post’s Dana Priest speaking at Duke

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post investigative reporter Dana Priest will deliver the 2009-10 Ewing Lecture on Ethics in Journalism at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy on Monday, October 19.

Priest’s reporting focuses on counter-terrorism, intelligence and military affairs. In 2006, she won a Pulitzer for reporting about CIA secret prisons and counter-terrorism operations, and in 2008, she won the Pulitzer Public Service award for “The Other Walter Reed,” her report about conditions in the military hospital.

Priest’s speech is titled Adventures in Journalism, from CIA Secret Prisons to Walter Reed. The Ewing Lecture will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Room 04 on the lower floor at the Sanford School of Public Policy (campus map).

Get more information at 919-613-7330.