Holly Henry: There’s more in your newspaper than meets the eyeNewspapers, much like airlines, banks and automobile manufacturers are businesses.
By: Holly Henry, Lake County News Chronicle
Newspapers, much like airlines, banks and automobile manufacturers are businesses.
They have owners. They have employees. And generally, they have debt.
To turn a profit, pay their employees and repay their mortgages, they sell their goods. Our “goods” here at the newspaper, are ads. A lot of community organizations and businesses support us with advertising. They see the connection. They come to us with an ad, we place it in our publication and they see a result. At the end of the day, if we continue to turn a profit, we get to pay the reporters who write the stories, the artists who design the pages and the advertising executives who serve our clients. We can afford newsprint, and production and delivery people.
When the advertising revenue declines, we have fewer reporters and fewer pages in our newspapers.
It’s no secret that this industry has suffered in recent months. There are challenges unique to this industry amidst an economic climate which is challenging to all industries. All of us have had to make tough decisions.
For reporters this is particularly difficult. How do we jam all the news of the communities we serve into fewer pages? What do we leave out? How do we cover events that take place in the evenings and on weekends with fewer staff members and a freeze on overtime?
Those of us who work in the industry recognize we have a lot of work to do to endear ourselves to our communities. But, at the end of the day, we are only able to offer as many pages of content as our advertising revenue will support.
Not long ago a former editor of Time Magazine, Walter Isaacson wrote:
“When I used to go fishing in the bayous of Louisiana as a boy, my friend Thomas would sometimes steal ice from those machines outside gas stations. He had the theory that ice should be free. We didn’t reflect much on who would make the ice if it were free, but fortunately we grew out of that phase. Likewise, those who believe that all content should be free should reflect on who will open bureaus in Baghdad or be able to fly off as freelancers to report in Rwanda under such a system.”
While Isaacson’s comments were referring to his belief that newspapers should charge for online content, the philosophy stands true for newspapers as a whole. They are businesses. And all businesses are facing challenges right now.
I believe community newspapers will come out of this just fine. But, in the meantime we’ve had to make responsible choices to make sure that we do. Sometimes that means cutting our page count.
And so, when I hear “There’s nothing in your newspaper,” I am often tempted to explain our plight. Instead, I just listen.
“There’s nothing in your newspaper.”
As I’ve worked among the creative, dedicated people here at the Chronicle I’ve come to know they care very much about this product.
To those of you who think there’s nothing in our newspaper let me assure you of this: Our hearts are.