Thursday, April 08, 2021

A LESS THAN 10 PERCENT adhole at the Morning News

 A week ago, I blogged about how the Dallas Morning News, aka the Snooze, had a 10-percent or so adhole in its issue the Thursday before that.

Today? Even worse. 

Despite MORE obits than the week before (and I count obits as part of the paid adhole), LESS THAN 10 PERCENT.

By my quick eyeballs, an even three pages on a 34-page paper.

What makes this even worse?

In today's world, if the Snooze still insists on printing this issue, it should not be distributed where I live. 

I live in the north exurban Metromess on the west side of I-35.

In other words, Fort Worth StartleGram territory.

What the hell the Snooze is even doing out here I have zero idea.

As I said last week, Belo's got more to worry about than A.H. Belo's Confederate past. With no papers outside the Snooze, Al Dia and anything else Dallas-based, and having hived off the digital marketing department ...

What's left there?

Their alleged paywall (third shot at doing one) is leaky, if it's even on half the time.

Facebook group pretending to be newspaper: Been there, done that

 I remember a Facebook group in Marlin running rumor as fact, but NOTHING like what is reportedly happening in Beaver Falls and Beaver Township, Pennsylvania.

I had a pair of regular weekly papers in a county of less than 25,000 that did a reasonable job of actual news reporting. It's a shame that the paper there, in a county of 170K, was sold to Craphouse.

The rest of the story is totally unsurprising, even though the paper says it's hiring two new staff.

When in Marlin and Falls County, I probably ran three or four op-ed columns that shot down the worst of the rumors. Problem is that, there's sometimes solid info on such a site. The real problem is that when the actual newspaper reports a story and a fair chunk of the populace doesn't want to accept it, and then spins new rumors. Like police in Chippewa Township, I've been accused of being part of a conspiracy.

That then said, we had plenty of bad cops in Marlin. But, the conspiracy thinking on the Facebook group wasn't just about policing matters.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

A 10 percent adhole at the Dallas Morning News

 And, on a Thursday, not a Monday paper (if Belo is still publishing the Snooze in print seven days a week).

Yes, you read that right — a 10 percent adhole on its March 25 issue, a week ago. That's on Belo's normal 34-page run on Thursdays. And, as usually with papers of any size, it counts obits as part of the adhole. 

They only had one-quarter page of obits. Still, a full page would have pushed the ad margin to, what? A whopping 12.5 percent?

With no other papers left besides the stable in Dallas, and with the digital marketing division now theoretically walled off, the "Rock of Truth" has truth to worry about far beyond A.H. Belo's Confederate past.

And yes, I know today's date, and no, this is no joke. 

The big question is, since investors forced the hiving off of the digital marketing division, how long before somebody either forces a sale or else swoops in? With all the other papers they sold in the past, Belo probably still has some cash reserves that would make it a tempting takeover target.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Streaming services gutting TV more and more

 Back in 2019, I had one blog post, then a follow-up, refudiating claims that teevee was about to face anywhere near the future financial problems of newspapers.

The initial post was based on a comment on Quora by a local-level TV programming engineer claiming "we're doing fine." I had multiple links showing local TV news viewership, a prime source of local TV ad dollars, was already declining. I had another link showing the age demographic for local TV news watching wasn't that much different than for newspapers.

In the follow-up, I noted how job cuts have affected local TV news broadcasting.

Meanwhile, national TV has had a new threat arise since then: streaming by Netflix and others. (COVID has brought yet another possible threat — movie streaming. Yeah, it's primarily a deal for movie theaters, but if it jacks movie viewing higher than before, that's extra personal entertainment time that has to be lost by another entertainment source.)

I update these ideas because streaming has come to pro sports.

And, not just any pro sport but the NFL.

And, and not just any streaming outlet but Amazon, otherwise known as Yellow Satan.

So, production engineer guy? Stop whistling in the dark.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

A.H. Belo is getting woke?

 The parent company of the Dallas Morning News, known here as the Snooze, of course, and parent company of not much else any more,  wants to officially rename itself because of its founder's Confederate Army past. Wiki, though, doesn't mention relatives' slave-owning past.

A renaming of a company like Belo, though, is like a renaming of a company like, oh, Monsanto, Exxon or Philip Morris. This is putting lips on a pig when it won't address that, through things at the Snooze such as an editorial page editor who used to work at the Shrub Bush Library, it remains part of the problem in contributing to factors that continue to contribute to adjuncts to racism, at least, today.

Nor will it address, per the likes of a Jim Schutze, its news coverage's continuing sense of paternalism toward South Dallas. 

Or real problems, like not selling newspaper ads.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Sulphur Springs: Screwing up a downsizing

The Sulphur Springs News-Telegram was a six-day daily until September, 2018. At that time, Southern Newspapers, having acquired it from Scott Keys 17 months earlier, cut it to tri-weekly.

Tri-weeklies are kind of neither fish nor fowl. Also, even when a downsizing is needed, I think it smart to downsize the least amount needed. You're less likely to lose customers, IMO.

Outside of circulation, I am going to lay out for you the basic parameters of the paper pre-downsizing and post-downsizing, then lay out an alternative scenario for going to five-day daily instead.

At six days a week it normally ran 10 pages Monday-Friday, with it occasionally being 12 on Fridays. Fridays also had a local tab-sized TV guide in it. Saturdays were normally 14, sometimes 16, in two sections.

The paper was priced at 50 cents Monday-Thursday and $1.25 Friday-Saturday. That's $4.50 for 64-68 page a week.

Editorial-side staff was an ME, two news writers, a hybrid writer/copy editor/photographer (and eventually galley slave for a week ag newspaper, tab-sized), and a staff photographer. Web was at 46 inches.

Downsizing cut to 18 pages in 12 A and 6 B all three days. A puzzle book was inserted on Tuesdays and color comics on Saturdays. The TV guide moved back to Thursdays. Cost was set at $1.25 for each of the three issues. The web was cut to 42 inches.

Print run didn't really change. B sections ran M/W/F and A sections ran T/Th/S, so the move didn't really help the press.

The one news writer was shit-canned. (He was over 70, but age discrimination is hard to prove. And, while he was a good person, he was kind of phoning it in, and had been for a few years on things like non-attendance at city council and commissioners court meetings.) The other writer and the hybrid/galley slave picked up his slack as best as possible.

That's $3.75 for 54 pages a week on a slightly tighter web.

My solution?

Five day daily, tossing the Monday, of course.

Eight pages on Tuesday-Thursday. TV guide on Friday. Insert the Country World ag newsletter as well. Eighteen pages on Saturday, with the color comics and puzzle book there.

Sports guy gets 1 page instead of 1.5 Tuesday-Friday. Classifieds gets made one page even, not 1.5, by cutting font/leading to 8.5 on 9 instead of 10 on 11. That means you only lost one page, not two, of newshole pages compared to old six-day daily. And, you're going to run lifestyle and community columnists all on the weekend. (Columnists ran Friday in old six-day format.)

Of the four extra pages on Friday, one is the 3/4 page religion ad with local church calendar material on top, and the other is a national religion and spirituality roundup. People will read that. The other two are two outdoor pages; we're doing three with the triweekly and had done one before. Sports guy can build those in advance. ME can build the national religion page in advance.

Saturday is 20 pages total, either as eight/six/six or two tens.

I'll give you an eight/six/six layout. That's eight pages in the A section just like on weekdays. B is three sports plus three outdoors. With the Matt Williams stuff, those can be built in advance, especially if sports guy is just building one page on weekdays. C opens with a national religion page. Local church calendar/briefs/sig ad on 2. Lunch menus on 3. Extension agents and other ag news on 4. Lifestyles etc. on 5-6. Filler as needed, including county courthouse records if they won't fit in A.

On a 10/10 layout? Your two religion pages go in A and the rest of the C section in B.

Price Tuesday-Thursday at 50 cents. Friday and Saturday at $1.50. That's $4.50, same as before, for 52 pages a week, two fewer pages than the triweekly. (Given that the average paper, post downsizing, when the galley slave left, was an adhole of 20 percent or less counting obits, my version of a downsize would have helped there as well.)

And, you could have tweaked otherwise.

Cut the phone-in staffer to 32 hours a week. (That's at 20 percent but not more than, so he couldn't file for unemployment.)

Sports editor is off Mondays with no Monday paper. And, Tuesday-Thursday, at least, are just one page of sports, not 1.5. So ... maybe trim him 3 percent?

ME is working less. She might need a half-day on Monday afternoons to edit stuff the two staff writers turn in. (Phone-in guy was Monday-Friday, other staffer M-W and F-S, and galley slave was Tues-Sat.) But, she doesn't need a full day Monday.

And, press is consolidated to five days. You got any contract jobs that had been printing Monday? They move to Tuesday or they say bye-bye. Cost of losing them is worth the press consolidation.

Maybe you don't need to cut the sports guy at all. You're saving enough elsewhere. Keep him flat, keep the ME flat and give the other, still full-time, news writer and the galley slave a 3 percent raise. Not nothing, but it is something.

Given the scenario I presented, Southern is making MORE money on savings than the actual cuts they did. Cutting the one staffer rather than firing him is offset by less stress, better quality, and keeping more subscribers by staying daily.

But, from what I've seen of Southern, first, they probably never even thought of this, and second, they'd reject it anyway if presented from outside.

That's their problem. Until they inflict it on staff at member papers.

Ask Lawton.


Another option would have been had Moser bought Sulphur Springs six months earlier. He could have made it a five-day with the weekend paper being a combo one with Mount Pleasant and also done a weekly combo entertainment guide that inserted in the Friday issue of both.

I wonder if he kicked the tires when Scott Keys was in the process of selling, and saw through some Scott BS, and didn't have a JD, as in the former Paris publisher, loading on his own BS.

That said, it wasn't necessarily a bad buy in the first place. Sulphur Springs has a growing population; not rapidly, but growing. Paris is on a slow decline. It also has a younger population and higher per-capita income.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Dennis and Theresa Phillips take over stable of Moser papers

Dennis and Theresa Phillips, publishers of the Hearne/Franklin, Cameron/Rockdale, and Marlin/Rosebud papes, are now reportedly also owners of all of the above as well.

I knew, when I tried to go back "home" in 2018, that they had a small minority stake in Jim Moser's ownership of the three pairs of papers.

Rumor last year was that they are becoming or will be becoming majority (sole?) owners of said papers. And, I've gotten confirmation on that last month.

Sounds like Jim is cutting bait, like Big Jim Chionsini wanted to do with some of the less profitable papers in Granite Publishing's purview when he came back and shoved daughter Brandi aside.

Given Dennis and Theresa's already demonstrated lack of ethics and possible illegality on the Marlin paper, things will surely go even further downhill. (I'd also expect the Rosebud paper to be shut down.)

Sorry, folks.

The only good news that MIGHT come out of this is pure schadenfreude. IF Ty Clevenger eventually publicly surrenders on the vile Seth Rich conspiracy theory bullshit and goes back to his Central Texas roots of chasing Booger County Mafia, him fighting Dennis without Moser around to wade in anymore could be fun.