Detroit Papers Dramatically Scaling Back

picture-38According to the Wall Street Journal on Saturday:

Detroit Media Partnership L.P., which operates the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, is expected to announce next week that it will cease home delivery of the papers’ print editions on most days of the week, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking . . . Curtailing home delivery would bring the Detroit papers much needed savings, but would also carry considerable risk. At a time when newspapers are fighting to retain readers, steering those readers online instead of delivering their paper to the door could cause them to lose the habit of reading a paper daily.

The Christian Science Monitor stopped publishing its print edition and went to a Web-only format. While this saves money in the short term, the online side of the business can’t generate the necessary revenues to support a traditional newsroom and editorial staff. And newspapers without print publications or with limited print publications loose their “primacy” in their local markets. Other types of sites may be more “efficient” and getting information about restaurants, travel, events, etc.

Indeed, news and (entertainment) listings are largely “commodizied” at this point. What’s not is the editorial content, the brand and the “voice” that a print newspaper brings to a community. Online, more “nimble” publishers can run circles around the lumbering newspapers however.

I don’t have a solution for this dilemma; it’s something of a double-bind for papers.


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