MediaFile

Tribune365, thinking beyond newspaper circulation

Monday’s newspaper circulation numbers please no one who makes their living from selling papers. That’s evident when you look at the top 25 dailies by circulation and see that the best performance came from The Wall Street Journal, which rose less than 1 percent. Considering that advertisers use these numbers to determine where to spend their money, there is little reason to rejoice.

Tribune Co’s two largest papers, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, both posted steep declines on Monday, but the company is urging advertisers to look beyond numbers that it considers less relevant than they were before the Internet. Instead, it wants them to look at how many people they can reach through Tribune’s diverse lineup of papers, websites and television stations.

To make this easier, Tribune has started “Tribune365,” a “multichannel sales solutions group providing customized marketing programs to advertisers looking to reach consumers across a variety of media platforms.” (More on what this means — in English — below.)

“We want to change the conversation around both how we sell and how people perceive newspapers.” Print circulation,” said Vincent Casanova, Tribune’s senior vp of publishing operations “just doesn’t tell the whole story… The objective is to change the conversation from a narrow look at topline circulation results to a broader discussion of the power of newspaper advertising and how to deliver results.”

For Tribune365, that means no longer selling ads to national buyers through a bunch of different sales teams that sell different kinds of ads for this or that part of a paper or this or that part of a website or TV station.

New York Times job cuts: Read the memo

The New York Times will cut 100 positions in its newsroom by the end of the year, Executive Editor Bill Keller told staff on Monday. This is the second time that the paper has taken this unfortunate step, having cut 100 positions last year (though, as Richard Perez-Pena reported in his story on nytimes.com, other positions were added so it was not a net reduction). Thing is, the TImes already cut pay for journalists and other employees this year in an attempt to forestall cuts. So… it’s not good news, but it is fit to print. Here is Keller’s memo:

Colleagues,

I had planned to invite you to the newsroom and break this news in person today, but I’ve been hit by something that seems to be the flu. Though I strongly believe in delivering bad news in person, I don’t want to add insult to injury by spreading infection.

Let me cut to the chase: We have been told to reduce the newsroom by 100 positions between now and the end of the year.

Newspapers stay on message in tough times

It must be hard to churn out positive messages about the newspaper business when papers are losing their advertising revenue at alarming rates and the Internet is not yielding up any easy secrets for survival.

Don’t underestimate the Newspaper of Association of America’s ability to stay positive. Here’s part of a press release that it issued today:

Newspaper Web sites attracted more than 70.3 million unique visitors in June (35.9 percent of all Internet users), according to a custom analysis provided by Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America. Newspaper Web site visitors generated 3.5 billion page views during the month, spending 2.7 billion minutes browsing the sites over more than 597 million total sessions.

Did *anyone* like the Los Angeles Times ads?

You have to hand it to Sam Zell and his band of outsiders at bankrupt media company Tribune Co. They are going to remake the newspaper business if it kills them.

The gang got broiled for a front-page ad that the Los Angeles Times ran last week that looked like an article. After that outcry, the Tribune-owned paper did it again, this time with another an ad supplement for Paramount’s movie, “The Soloist.” That one includes an interview with Steve Lopez, the Times columnist who wrote the book that became the movie. The ad also ran under the LA Times’s own banner.

As it turns out, nearly everyone who cares enough to talk about these ads in public despises them. You could have said that LA Times employees were just kvetching when they circulated a petition voicing their opposition to the ads — broke down and dispirited by bankruptcy, and repeated waves of layoffs, they stuck to the old line that there needs to be a distinction between ads and editorial copy for various ethical reasons.

L.A. Times staffers fume over front-page ad

The decision by the Los Angeles Times to run a front-page ad that looks like a news story has raised eyebrows in media circles. LAT staffers, meanwhile, are raising their pitchforks.

Horrified by what they see as a deceptive blurring of the line between paid advertising and news stories, some 100 employees at the paper have signed a petition to Publisher Eddy Hartenstein “strenuously” objecting.

“This place already had horrible morale problems with decimating layoffs, but now to have our publisher whore out the front page is more than we can stand,” one editorial staff member told Reuters. “It blurs the line between paid content and content that our reporters are producing.”

New York Times brings IHT into the fold

It’s no secret that the International Herald Tribune is part of The New York Times Co, so why not flaunt it? Visitors to nytimes.com and iht.com saw evidence of this thinking Sunday (or Monday, depending on where you are).

When you visit the IHT website, you now see a Web link on your Internet browser that says this: http://global.nytimes.com/?iht. The flag at the top of the page now reads: “International Herald Tribune: The Global edition of The New York Times.” The layout of the website also has been adjusted to resemble that of nytimes.com’s homepage. If you visit nytimes.com, a banner across the top of the page invites you to “try the new global edition,” which, of course, is what iht.com used to be. If you’re a regular Reuters reader, you can’t say you’re too surprised, as we told you last June that this was coming.

We’re curious about whether bringing the IHT closer into the fold allows the Times to cut its costs in any significant way, and will update this blog entry once we get some clarity on that. The Times is dealing with falling advertising revenue and also has had to take other steps such as selling its interest in its headquarters building and borrowing money at a high interest rate from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to help pay off debt. It also cut 100 jobs in its business operations, it said on Friday, and said it is cutting staff pay by 5 percent (and in the case of union workers in its newsroom, is asking them to agree to that pay cut to avoid news staff layoffs).

Read Washington Post chairman’s letter to shareholders

Washington Post Co Chairman Don Graham wrote a more than 2,000-word letter to shareholders for his company’s latest annual report. I managed to cut it down to the 587 words that I thought were really worth reading. Graham is the kind of chairman and CEO that you want to cover as a journalist because he seems to rely exclusively on straight talk instead of obfuscation — particularly when the news is bad for the company and for shareholders. Here are the 587 words, with the parts that I found even more interesting than the rest marked in bold type.

We could do without more years like 2008. … In past years, I have rattled on in these letters about our Company’s relationship to our shareholders. Generations of top managers at The Post Company have reiterated: we’re focused on the long run; we’re committed to building value for our shareholders. My own assets are more than 90% concentrated in the stock you own. All of these remain true, but I am in the embarrassing position of writing you after a year in which Post Company stock declined by more than 50%. Comparative results (“you should see what happened to the other newspapers”) offer no solace.

It’s central that you know this: in 1998, about 75% of the Company’s revenue came from The Post, Newsweek and our television stations. In 2008, almost 70% came from Kaplan and Cable ONE.

EW Scripps CEO: Storytellers are journalism’s future

I spoke late last week with the chief executive of EW Scripps Co, the company that got its share of hisses and boos for shutting down the Rocky Mountain News this past February.

Rich Boehne, a journalist back in the day, is in charge of navigating a chain publisher of U.S. newspapers through the most difficult time that it ever has had, not to mention all the employees of the papers that the company owns. And let’s not forget the local television stations that Scripps also operates.

Boehne and I talked about the future of newspapers for a story that I was working on about the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2009 report on the state of the news media. I included some of his remarks in a story that I wrote about ideas that the report had for saving newspapers, but our conversation ranged beyond the story at hand.

The state of the news media? Not so hot

The Project for Excellence in Journalism published its sixth annual State of the News Media report on Monday. The report, at 800 pages and 180,000 words, is a monster. The news media that it’s analyzing, however, is turning into something quite a bit smaller.

The group, along with its chief, Tom Rosenstiel, has provided a snapshot of where the news industry is today, though with an industry so large, a snapshot this size is impossible to condense into one little blog, let alone a story for the wire. If you’re looking to wallow, dig in to the specifics, follow this link.

Here, meanwhile, are some of the introductory remarks and top findings of the study, mostly in the study’s own words. Warning: These findings are not suitable for your friends in journalism who are struggling to maintain their sense of self-worth.

Two-newspaper city? Try Montreal, with *four*

montreal

Here’s a contribution to the newspaper files from my colleague Phil Wahba, born and raised in the city of Montreal:

With the Seattle Post-Intelligencer potentially closing its print edition or shutting down entirely next week, The New York Times wrote today that it is possible that a city of 3.3 million people, and other large cities, might only be able to support one paper.

Contrast that with Montreal, a city with 3.7 million people and four dailies, three French and one English.