I pit Gannett...

…not only in terms of USA Today, but also for what they have done to the other papers that they’ve purchased, like The Greenville News for instance.

Why am I pitting Gannett with regard to this paper, you might ask? Well, I used to like the News back when I was a boy: then, it had a good bit of meat on the bones, so to speak (IOW, the sections were bigger and there was a lot more content); it only cost 25 cents on weekdays, and $1.00 on Sundays. Nowadays, I’m not really feeling it; the paper (now a Gannett product) is wafer-thin (18-30 pages on weekdays, and about 100-120 on Sundays; a lot of other papers have the Sunday page count on quite a few weekdays, and more than that on Sundays). It also costs 75 cents now on weekdays, and $1.75 on Sundays, all for a paper that has very little to offer nowadays. To add insult to injury, being a Gannett product, it has one of the poorest layout schemes you could ever imagine in a newspaper; most big-city papers are much better than the News with regard to that. Also, the sports section is mostly recycled AP stories; no real writing to speak of.

They’ve all got the Gannett!

It’s not just Gannett. After a couple of years in St. Louis, and after over 40 years of reading at least one newspaper every day, I cancelled my subscription to the Post-Dispatch, and didn’t miss it for one second. Owned by a company that mostly runs newspapers in places like East Nowhere, Montana, and Flat and Empty, Iowa, they run the paper in a major city identically to those places. Joseph Pulitzer is spinning in his grave.

'Course, the first thing I did back here in Denver was fire up a subscription. (I lie, it was the second. First was a library card.) The Post also ain’t what it used to be, but it’s still a good paper.

I just hope newspapers don’t go completely extinct until after I’m outta here.

A big cause is that advertising revenue is down for various reasons. So with fewer ads, the newspapers and magazines can’t print as many pages. So as Frank said, it’s not just Gannett.

Newspapers are in a death spiral. The more ads they add, the more annoying it is to read and the more appealing on-line alternatives are. This lowers circulation so they have to add more ads.

Our local paper now has these annoying wrap around advertisements on the front page. I’ve canceled my subscription and try and read sections left by other patrons at coffee shops.

Thanks for the responses! To clarify, when I said “most big-city papers,” I meant those that I’ve seen (Chicago, L.A., Baltimore, Washington, Philly, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, etc.). I’ve even seen a few slightly larger-market papers, like from Myrtle Beach, for instance; the last one I saw from there (a Sunday one, I believe), I enjoyed it over hot blueberry tea, and I appreciated it and thought it time well-spent, because it was very interesting and engaging to me (the design helped a lot there too). This Greenville one, on the other hand, like I said, I find entirely flat and uninspiring (and Gannett’s incorporation of USA Today on page 2 and in the baseball part of the sports section doesn’t help matters).

That’s another thing I strongly dislike about mine here. They have that wraparound on the Sunday comics, and it gets in the way. If I recall correctly, I saw a picture of a Sunday L.A. Times from Flickr, and that one had it on it too.

Fuck Gannett.

Oh, and the kicker:


Gannett’s executives treated the company like a burning building, and instead of saving the people inside they grabbed all the cash they could on the way out. Fuck 'em.

I work for a major city newspaper. Welcome to the reality of my world. Here are a few perspectives:

The largest costs involved in publishing a newspaper are production and distribution costs (paper, ink, labor). Those costs always go up.

The major sources of income are circulation (i.e. what people pay to receive the paper) and advertising. Circulation numbers have been steadily declining for most newspapers; the exceptions seem to be the small local papers. Advertising revenue has been in deadfall for the past 10 years. Is this because newspapers are not as good, or is it because advertisers have found greener pastures?

So how is it you expect newspapers to stay large and interesting without the money coming in to pay for the the costs? And you complain about one of the few kinds of advertising that still sell, the outside wrap?

sh1bu1, I have no idea what you are talking about. What newspaper is putting more ads on the page? I’d like to see that.

As for Gannett, they are a corporation with shareholders. So was Knight-Ridder, which is now defunct and its hundreds of newspapers scattered to the wind. Shareholders aren’t satisfied with 5% profits or 10% profits, they want 20% or better. The only difference between Gannett and Knight-Ridder is that Gannett management knows how to use the economies of scale and other management techniques to keep themselves in business; Knight-Ridder, not so much.

So don’t blame Gannett management, blame the shareholders (and their board of directors). .

As for me, I’m just hanging on by my fingernails until I can retire. Fortunately for me, my parent company doesn’t depend on newspaper revenue to survive, and my pension is pretty secure.

On preview, adding a comment to Swords to Plowshares post. I don’t believe Gannett is gutting their business, I believe they are trying desperately to stay in business. Over the past 8 years our newspaper has gone from 2500 employees to maybe 600. We have closed and outsourced our entire printing and distribution side. This was not from a desire to take the money and run; it was from a desire to not close the doors.

<sigh> And then the Rocky died.

Gannett paper in my area is similar to Greenville one and my experience is the same and my dislikes about current product like others who’ve posted.

Currently $1 Daily and $2 Sunday. Subs, store sales and machine sales in my neighborhood are down 50% from 15 years ago. It’s a wafer-thin Berliner.

But the kicker was today’s editorial announcement is that as of end of year the online community will need to ally their newspaper webpage registration to a Facebook account.

I am pretty active as a poster on comments pages there and out of 2 dozen posters commenting on a regular basis and who post with opinions similar to mine probably half have announced they will stop posting.

Several of us have received threats (veiled and otherwise) for our physical safety from posters who disagree with us.

I don’t like Gannett. They wet their nests.

What is the name of the paper you are speaking of? There’s a similar paper that is technically in my area (at least it’s sold in one convenience store in Greenville Co.) called the Anderson Independent-Mail.

I don’t like them. They’ve got long nasty beaks! And they wet their nests.</Feldman>

Which shows how little advertisers know about their target audience - I find those things so irritating that I go out of my way to never shop at stores that use that kind of ad. And don’t even let me get started on the ones that are wrapped and attached!

You do, of course, have that right. But I believe that you are in the minority. Advertisers are not stupid. If a style of advertising gets a good response, they will continue to use it. If it results in no response, or bad response, they will try something else. So it’s you and those who agree with you, against (apparently) most other people.

That’s where I think the disconnect is. I cannot see how any of the advertisers know which and how much any given ad form works, so I don’t think they know that those extremely irritating wrap ads work (or don’t work). What I think is happening is that they have noticed that there is a good return vs cost in email spam, so somehow they got the idea that the more irritating and invasive an ad is, the better it works.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t put off by wrap ads, and I don’t see the logic in irritating a portion of the target audience on the off chance the ad will catch the eye of someone who might actually be interested in buying whatever they sell. This time of year I can see that it is more likely to happen, but the rest of the year? People who shop using coupons will look for them without needing them attached to non-ad pages, otherwise all those pages do is create a bad subconscious impression of whoever the advertiser is who is on the top of that wrap page.

Or maybe a majority of the population are sheep who just buy whatever is shoved into their faces… :frowning:

It’s not ads on a page, it’s pages of advertising. Before you read a newspaper you need to ‘debone’ it, tossing out all the inserts and trying not to toss out the sections along with it. It’s not uncommon to have more pages of advertising inserts than actual newspaper. I don’t know what people who read the newspaper on the subway are supposed to do with all those slippery glossy pages. I remember the days when newspaper only had one or two sections and they were actually pleasant to read. The comics and crosswords were larger as well.

Newspapers’ biggest problems aren’t wrap ads. People don’t, en masse, decide to stop subscribing to the paper because they have to turn an extra page. Look at all the ugly, intrusive, annoying advertising we put up with online.

And it’s not design. Visit Drudge or HuffPo or any of the countless other cluttered, confusing, non-importance signalling, Web sites and know that far less time and thought has gone into those than your average major metro daily redesign. Again, people don’t pick up a paper because “My, what a beautiful body copy font they’ve used” or “Look at all that whitespace on the front page!”

The major problem is people don’t think they need to know the information newspapers are providing (or they think they can get it somewhere else easier or cheaper) and/or newspapers aren’t providing information people think they need to know (or they aren’t providing it as easily or cheaply). Those are two different problems, and they probably need at least two solutions.

My hometown newspaper used to print league bowling scores – only place in town you could see them except the bowling alley’s wall. The local paper where I am now, sure, they’ll run a feature about your kid’s school – but it’ll be up online (for free, accessible from anywhere in the world and without even having to get up off your couch) before it’s in print in the paper (and if it’s slated for a Sunday, sometimes it’ll be up Friday afternoon). But the paper will also be chock-full of (at least) hours-old wire stories that I can read updated versions of on any one of hundreds of Web sites. It will have news that has already come and gone.

Everybody I knew used to have a newspaper subscription. It used to be in school assignments: “Find an article out of the paper that talks about such and such.” People used to say “It said in the paper…” (they still say that occasionally, but they often mean (ok, I often mean) “It said on the paper’s Web site…”). Now it doesn’t feel like you need a newspaper subscription to be a well-informed citizen, as long as you have an Internet connection.

I don’t know what the solution is, but that’s the problem as I see it. (I’m working on it though, as my current livelihood depends on people wanting to stay informed).

Print media is dead. News was good when it was the ‘fastest’. radio and tv news have become popular FOR this reason. The fact is old news is old. We don’t don’t need to know there was an atomic meltdown in Japan yesterday…we need to know NOW!