Tuesday, October 08, 2013

That sinking feeling

Here's how bad things have become at the Miami Herald.

Posted below is the Herald's "Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation" as it appears on page 4A of today's paper.

According to the statement, the Herald's average paid daily circulation for the preceding 12 months (Sept, 12, 2012 - Aug. 13, 2013) was  84,224 copies.

Add to that number, 14,425 copies that are either given away or sold at a nominal rate, and the paper's daily circulation is now just 98,649. Put another way, even when they give papers away, they can't crack the 100,000 mark.

Or put yet another way, that's a yearly attrition rate of 20,000. The Sunday numbers are worse.

The previous year's paid circulation was 103,608 daily, 172,540 Sunday.

The paper that was once the largest in the state - it's now number five - and had a daily circulation of almost a half-million, now has less than 100,000 print readers daily.

Source: Miami Herald, Oct. 8, 2013, page 4A.

Why the declining numbers? Anyone who's been a regular reader of the paper for the past 5 or 10 years  can answer that question.

The only people who don't seem to know the answer are the people who run the show at 3511 NW 91 Ave.

For instance, since the beginning of the year a half-dozen or more experienced reporters and editors have either quit or retired. They aren't being replaced.

Proof: Today we learn that veteran reporter Curtis Morgan, most recently the paper's environmental reporter, has been promoted to assistant metro editor and will now oversee reporters who cover the courts and education beats.

Who will replace Morgan?

See the last paragraph of managing editor Rick Hirsch's email below.

From: "Hirsch, Rick"
Date: October 7, 2013, 5:27:39 PM EDT
To: MIA Newsroom
Subject: Congratulate Curtis Morgan


Twenty-six years ago, Curtis Morgan joined The Herald as a copy editor in our Broward Bureau.

In the years since, Curtis has distinguished himself as a news and feature writer. From advisory-to-advisory coverage of approaching storms to explaining the complexities of sea level rise, Curtis excelled in explanatory storytelling, often on complex environmental issues.

He also has an unmatched record as our hurricane writer-- he's steered every major threat away from South Florida during his tenure on the beat.

Curtis is a reporter whom peers consult when they are stuck on the lede of a story or are seeking a suggestion or a special touch. He's also pitched in from time to time as a hit-and-run editor.

I'm pleased to report that Curtis will be taking on that role full time, overseeing our education team and criminal and federal courts reporters.

Curtis has a deep knowledge of South Florida. He grew up in South Florida, attended Palmetto High and the University of South Florida. He worked for Gannett papers in the Virgin Islands and Cocoa before joining The Herald in 1987.

As an editor, we know Curtis will continue The Herald's storytelling tradition that he's helped shape during his years as a reporter.

Please congratulate him.

Curtis' shift to editing creates the need for a new environmental reporter -- as well as someone who can take the lead in covering hurricanes. If you are interested, please reach out to Amy Driscoll.

Rick and Mindy

When Hirsch announced the retirement last month of 25-year veteran writer Ellie Brecher, the last line of his email was "Ellie's retirement means we are seeking an obituary reporter. [...] We're looking for someone who digs deep, is compassionate, and can write a hell of a story. If you are interested, please contact Rick Hirsch or Jay Ducassi."

At this late stage, there's probably nothing the Herald honchos can do to stop the paper from hemorrhaging subscribers.

But watching people walk out the door without replacing them certainly won't solve the problem.


April 2013: Circulation figures released for Florida newspapers

Oct. 2012: Here are the latest circulation figures for major Florida newspapers

Nov. 2011: Miami Herald circulation dips slightly; St. Petersburg Times is still Florida's largest newspaper

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