Advance Publications, which owns dozens of newspapers nationwide including some major market dailies, seems to be cutting the frequency of its daily paper in Cleveland, The Plain Dealer.
In a letter to its readers, the editor and publisher of the paper said major changes were coming as the newspaper seeks to “embrace dynamic shifts in the way information is consumed.”
“The Plain Dealer has to respond to the sweeping changes we see every day in how consumers are getting their news and information -- and how advertisers are marketing themselves in this increasingly digital age.” Erik Sass, reporting on the changes in MediaPost, speculates that the strategy will emphasize mobile and digital distribution at the expense of the print product.
Other Advance newspapers in New Orleans, Syracuse, Harrisburg and several dailies in Alabama have created new companies to combine management of both print and digital products, while cutting the print publication frequencies of the dailies from seven days a week to three. So far, this hasn't worked too well in New Orleans, reports are saying.
Total newspaper ad revenues have dropped more than 50 percent since 2005, says the Newspaper Association of America. Papers are having another bad year so far in 2012, as total revenues for the first half fell another 6.7 percent.
Cutting print frequency will save printing and distribution costs, for sure. But publishers seem to be, so far, using these changes to slash newsroom staff as well. I'm not sure how the publishers expect online ad revenues -- which still command far lower rates than print display ad rates -- to offset the loss of print ads four days a week. And who's going to visit sites if there's less real news being covered, because of news staffing cuts?
Time will tell.