Thursday, June 07, 2012

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette raises single-copy price, partly to keep itself a statewide newspaper

The era of statewide, metropolitan newspapers that offered circulation and news coverage in the far  reaches of their states, a critical connection for rural readers, is almost over. But at least one paper is bucking the trend, at a price that it hopes readers will pay.

In the past week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette raised its single-copy price to $1 ($2 on Sundays), saying the proliferation of other advertising media and the paper's maintenance of statewide circulation and coverage had made its profits "dwindle to unsustainable levels," Publisher Walter Hussman Jr., right, said in a letter to readers.

"In many ways we have charted a different course," Hussman wrote. "Rather than cutting back on circulation in outlying areas, we have continued to be a statewide newspaper. We believe readers throughout Arkansas are interested in statewide news, and we see evidence that advertisers benefit from our large circulation. Our daily circulation of 178,906 is higher than ten years ago."

Hussman added, "At the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, our plan is to remain a statewide, seven-day-a-week daily newspaper. We also plan to maintain our news staff and provide the type of complete, in-depth reporting that Arkansans have expected from us for decades. But with continued advertising declines, we can see no other way to do this other than fundamentally changing our revenue base. In the future, we will have to rely more heavily on revenue from readers and subscribers." (Read more)

Bucking trends is nothing new for Hussman. Almost alone among major publishers, he resisted the strategy of providing news for free online. Now the industry is moving his way. Had it done so earlier, and also followed his example of staying statewide, the industry and its customer would have been better off.

1 comment:

red swift said...

great for arkansas democrat-gazette. it really makes Newhouse -- publisher of major alabama dailies and N.O paper, look like journalism leeches for cutting back to three days a week, while promising more news. fewer reporters and editors, less news pages, but more news?