On Thursday, Advance Publications, Inc. announced that four of its daily newspapers would cut print editions from seven days per week to three.
The Times-Picayune in New Orleans was the first to hit the chopping block. Alabama’s three largest papers, The Huntsville Times, The Birmingham News and the Press-Register in Mobile weren’t far behind.
The past 10 years haven’t been kind to the newspaper business, particularly from a public relations standpoint. Every fool with a microphone has been beating his or her chest decrying the death of newspapers.
Don’t buy it. It’s not true.
Advance Publications bought into the rhetoric. They’re basically engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Assuming those papers were dying, their actions on Thursday will do nothing but expedite the process. Further, I’d be shocked if they’re printing a paper at all within three years.
I’ve never seen financial statements from any of the aforementioned properties. That said, I really don’t need to. It’s apparent the group is struggling financially. It’s apparent those problems have been going on for some time. What’s not apparent is how the powers that be think cutting back to three publications weekly will help remedy those struggles. Honestly, it appears they’re not really sure.
Today’s headline in the Press-Register read, “Exciting changes for our readers” Honest question – how many subscribers to the Press-Register do you think were “excited” about the fact that they no longer have a daily newspaper?
Every newspaper in the country is battling a struggling economy. That’s no secret. We’re no different than any other for-profit business in that regard. However, there is no fundamental flaw with our business model – regardless of what the talking heads would have you believe.
The Daily Sentinel has been in business for over 100 years. We’ve remained for so long because of our commitment to local content. We pride ourselves on giving people information they can’t get anywhere else. The three largest papers in Alabama used to be committed to that as well.
Somewhere along the way larger metro newspapers lost focus on their commitment to hyper-local content. Doing so was a terrible mistake – one that may prove to be fatal.
It’s a mistake that we’ve never made and, as long as I’m employed here, will never make.
We’re still committed to providing our readers with local, compelling content they can’t get anywhere else. We’ve not entertained cutting publication days, significant layoffs or anything of the like.
The news about Alabama’s three largest newspapers, while troubling, has absolutely nothing to do with the health or future of this newspaper.
The bottom line is this – we’re not going anywhere.