Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bits and pieces

A few seemingly unrelated items caught my eye today:
  • Figures released on Tuesday show the Miami Herald's web traffic for August is up 89% over August a year ago.

  • The executive editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, Bob Gabordi, told his readers today that a major investigative piece planned for Sunday's paper won't be available online: "The story will appear in Sunday’s Tallahassee Democrat print edition.

    "That’s all I’m going to tell you about it for now, except to say don’t look for it on It won’t be here.

    "We want to keep Sundays special for our print-edition readers, who pay extra for the newspaper and deserve more."
  • I found Gabordi's comments interesting in light of the fact that last Sunday's page one story in the Herald - "The priest, the stripper, and their baby" - was available online as early as the Friday evening before its publication on Sunday.

    It appears that the people who run the Miami Herald and the Tallahassee Democrat have differing opinions on how best to distribute their content.

    Apparently the Democrat is still betting on the future of the print product while the Herald is trying everything to goose their web traffic.

    But at some point more and more Herald subscribers are going to notice that the online story they read free of charge the night before, is in the morning paper that they pay for.

    Many subscribers have already figured that out.

    New circulation figures for the nation's daily newspapers are due to be released at the end of next month.

    Barring a miracle, the Herald's daily circulation will likely dip below 200,000.

    Perhaps what one industry analyst wrote a year ago bears repeating:
    "One big reason the numbers are declining is the product itself. In the last year, we've seen unprecedented cuts in the product -- and the customers are noticing. It looks like the amount of newsprint is down about 10-15%; some in stories, some in ads. Trusted bylines have disappeared overnight. Readers notice, and talk to their friends, and they're saying: it's not the newspaper it used to be. When the subscription notices come, they're a little less likely to be acted upon."
    Lantana mayor David Stewart, who reads the Palm Beach Post has already decided where he'll get his news.

    When the Post raised subscription rates from $120 to $200 a year, he called the paper and asked why he should continue to pay for something he was reading online for free.

    After listening to the paper's answers he made a decision. He decided against renewing his subscription.

    I'm not sure how newspapers can hold onto paying print readers while they continue offering the same product online at no charge.

    And it's pretty obvious that the people who run newspapers don't have the answer either.

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