A WaPo Look at Newpapers

Gannett, the largest chain in the country, last month eliminated one day of print per week at 136 of its newspapers, including at the Beacon Journal. Another 50 will make the change by June, with most losing Saturday print editions.

Executives insist readers will get the same quality of journalism.

Elahe Izadi at The Washington Post takes a look at the newspaper industry in general
and Gannett in particular, and the push to swing readers from print to online subscriptions.

A few quotes from the article:

The Gannett papers are hardly the first newspapers to head this direction. The Plain Dealer in Cleveland scaled back to three days of home delivery years ago. McClatchy, which owns 30 newspapers around the country, announced in 2019 it would cut Saturday editions. Citing the pandemic, the Tampa Bay Times reduced printing to just twice a week.


And now inflation and supply-chain issues are driving supply costs through the roof. In an earnings call last month, the publisher and president of the Dallas Morning News, which still prints daily, said the company’s newsprint costs had soared to about $720 a metric ton, from $520 two years earlier.


The abandonment of print has actually progressed more slowly than many anticipated, said Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute. The change at Gannett “is incremental, but I think it’s a step along the way to bigger reductions.”


Gannett, which merged with the GateHouse chain in 2019, has set a goal of increasing its 1.6 million digital-only subscribers to 6 million by 2025. But print subscriptions still bring in significant cash, accounting for more than $1.2 billion in revenue compared with about $101 million for digital-only subscriptions. (The company expects revenue to dip but to turn a profit in 2022.)


That last one – “[P]rint subscriptions…[account] for more than $1.2 billion in revenue compared with about $101 million for digital-only subscriptions,” – has me wondering if that 1000 to 1 ratio is about what describes cartoonists’ income from print newspapers vs. online websites?



Elsewhere Editor & Publisher reports on revenue opportunities for newspapers.

In January 2022, the Reuters Institute published “Journalism, media, and technology trends and predictions 2022.” In the report, author Nic Newman explained, “More publishers plan to push ahead with subscription or membership strategies this year, with the majority of those surveyed (79%) saying this will be one of their most important revenue priorities, ahead of both display and native advertising.”

“The most promising new subscription program we have going on is what we like to call ‘the daily digital replica initiative,’ but in the industry, everybody knows it as the ‘iPad program.’ Really, it’s an iPad-plus-Sunday print subscription strategy,” {WEHCO Newspapers president Mark] Lane told E&P. In other words, with a digital subscription to WEHCO Media papers, readers receive an Apple iPad, pre-loaded with the PressReader app. Subscribers still receive their beloved Sunday print editions, but their daily experience is devoutly digital the rest of the week.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about converting the loyal print subscribers to an iPad, where they read a digital replica,” he said.