GateHouse sucks newspaper dry, AP blames ‘decline in ads, readers’ for suckage

The facts about a small paper folding are all right here:

In the mid-1990s, when former Daily Guide publisher Tim Berrier was replaced, the newspaper had a news editor, sports editor, photographer and two reporters on staff. Along with traditional community news, the Daily Guide covered the Army’s decision to move its chemical warfare training facility to Fort Leonard Wood in the 1990s, and a flood that swept a mother and son to their deaths in 2013.

As recently as 2010, the Daily Guide had four full-time news people, along with a page designer and three ad salespeople.

But people left and weren’t replaced. Last spring, the Daily Guide was cut from five to three days a week. 

But the headline reads “decline in readers, ads leads hundreds of newspapers to fold.” Not “neverending series of cuts fails to convince customers the product is worth purchasing anymore, while company executives managed to pay themselves bonus after bonus.” This is the takeaway:

All newspaper owners face a brutal reality that calls into question whether it’s an economically sustainable model anymore unless, like the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, the boss is the world’s richest man.

Let’s ignore the truly regrettable construction of that sentence (What’s not an economically sustainable model? Newspaper owners? That I’d agree with.) and examine the implication that Jeff Bezos personally pays the salaries of every Washington Post reporter out of the goodness of his heart: 

Under Bezos, The Post has revamped its website and mobile apps. It also created software called “Arc,” which gives better analytics and marketing features for the publication.

That’s helped it take a more data-driven approach. It now employs common web strategies like “A/B testing” to track how different headlines and story framings affect readership for each story. It also created a program that takes articles from other publications and asks readers which ones they’d rather read.

It’s also hired a bunch of new editors and reporters lately. It now publishes 1,200 articles a day. Its content varies from breaking news and long features to fun photo slideshows …

So he … invested in making the paper better, and people got interested? Why wouldn’t that work anywhere else, GateHouse?

GateHouse said the Daily Guide, like many smaller newspapers across the country, was hurt by a dwindling advertising market among national retailers. The paper supplemented its income through outside printing jobs, but those dried up, too, said Szachara, the GateHouse newspaper operations president.

Given an unforgiving marketplace, there’s no guarantee additional investment in the paper would have paid off, he said.

National retailers. In a town of 5,000 in the Ozarks. Give me a break. This is where outside, corporate, hedge-fund ownership the news in the ass: Wal-mart can’t supply the pages it was supplying across the entire company, so to make a certain number this quarter this entire community’s news gets cut.

But hey, maybe GateHouse was too broke to invest in this paper the way Bezos did OH WAIT: 

Only a few short weeks after announcing a centralization of layout and copy editing that will cost jobs at its more than 300 newspapers across the nation, GateHouse Media revealed Friday it has awarded more than $1.4 million in bonuses to its top four executives.

ONE POINT FOUR MILLION DOLLARS could run this small paper for five years. Stop interrogating the business model and start interrogating the spending habits of your goddamn management team.

Go on, tell me more about how investment wouldn’t pay off, even though there are examples of it doing just that. It can’t be that you’d rather make money on the downturn than REVERSE THE GODDAMN DOWNTURN, right?

They will keep doing this as long as we keep buying the argument that it’s “declining revenue” (does that mean it’s enough to pay your bills or no?) or “changes in the media consumer landscape” or “damn kids on their phones these days” keeps getting included in the nut graf like some kind of weather system. This is a problem that has a solution, and that you don’t wanna solve it, don’t change that one bit.


One thought on “GateHouse sucks newspaper dry, AP blames ‘decline in ads, readers’ for suckage

  1. My local paper served the area for over 100 years, until Richard Mellon Scabies ate it for lunch.

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