Sunday, September 21, 2008
Newspaper meltdown 12: Advertiser firings unnecessary?
by Larry Geller
A couple of weeks ago I asked, Newspaper Meltdown 11: Is Gannett foolish or wise? Advertiser editor Mark Platte points us to an answer in his column today, Advertiser readership up, survey shows. And the answer he suggests is “extremely foolish.”
Every two years, The Advertiser gets the results of its comprehensive market survey, measuring reader satisfaction with our news content, Web site, custom publications, special sections and even advertisements.
Thanks to our loyal readers, the numbers once again were excellent. While readership is declining across the country, weekly readership is up at The Advertiser. Some 76 percent of those surveyed — representing 530,000 O'ahu adults — said they read the newspaper over the previous seven days, a 3 percent increase from 2006.
The question that must be asked, and I’ll ask it here, is, “Well, Mark, if readership is up, not down, then why did the Advertiser fire 54 of its staff?
Reader satisfaction with news topics has increased over two years in almost every area that was measured. . . .
. . . but now, you’ve let go many of the people who made that possible!
On July 16 the layoffs were announced:
The Honolulu Advertiser said it will reduce its payroll by 54 positions, joining the list of newspapers nationwide that have been forced to cut jobs in wake of the weakening economy.
The reductions were announced to the Advertiser staff by Publisher Lee Webber.
"We do not take this action lightly," said Webber. "But we are not immune to the national trends affecting the newspaper industry, nor from the downturn in our local economy."
It seems that this reading was totally off, if the Advertiser’s own survey is accurate. Higher readership brings with it higher ad revenue. The job reductions now seem unjustified.
Ok, Mr. Webber, over to you. Any plans to hire back Dick Adair and the others? Will an Advertiser that shops for and prints stories by Mainland syndicates satisfy readers for the next two years?
You were doing things right, perhaps, and were indeed immune to the national trends that affect and afflicted other papers. And now you’ve possibly undone it.
Is Gannett killing the Advertiser’s golden goose (Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English: “a continuous resource, esp. of wealth or profit, but which can disappear if misused”)?