How the Birmingham Mail Separated Print from Digital to Save the Newspaper

I was struck by Jeff Jarvis’s recent polemic, ‘If I ran a newspaper…’ published on Medium.

In it, he quoted an unnamed editor’s description of the predicament he — and many of us — find ourselves in:

“We have two houses. One is on fire and the other isn’t built yet. So our problem is that we have to fight the flames in the old house at the same time we’re trying to figure out how to build the new one.”

He was, of course, describing the rock-and-a-hard place dilemma that’s beset legacy media brands for more than a decade now: We know print is declining fast, and the future’s digital, but the problem is most of our revenues are still in the former, and the latter will never generate the money we made back in the day.

I’ve lived in this cleft stick for most of my career. The legendary “tipping point” is still talked about hypothetically years after it should have become a reality for more of the U.K.’s legacy media — particularly in the regions. The tipping point comes when your digital revenue growth offsets your print revenue decline. Rather than waiting reluctantly for it to happen — or indeed trying to postpone it — we should have been doing everything to make it happen on our terms. Unfortunately, I think the industry dragged its feet for too long.

Separating The Houses
So I am excited that here in Birmingham we’ve at last been given the opportunity to not only build the new house, but to move in and make it our home. At the same time, we’re sending more firemen to deal with the blaze next door. (I promise that’s the last tortured metaphor, for now, at least).

We announced this week that we are creating a new, standalone and sustainable digital business that could be a model for similar enterprises across the U.K. and beyond.

At the heart of the new operation is a digital-only newsroom forged from the team that has made BirminghamMail.co.uk the fastest-growing regional news website in the UK for much of the past year. Thanks to my team’s efforts, we reach more than 50% of Brummies every week, and now we want to reach e

At the same time, we want the new model to be completely self-sustainable, achieving a profit driven by programmatic and solus digital advertising, and not over-dependent on print upsell from legacy clients. There’ll be whole new revenue streams, too.

The new newsroom will be more than digital-first; it will be digital only.

Print will continue, but we think it, also, is best served by separating its fortunes more clearly from digital.

Our Manifesto
Jeff Jarvis’s call-to-arms was remarkable for how closely his prescription for change matched what we’re trying to do in Birmingham. It read like a manifesto, so here’s ours:

When you lose pounds in print, you only ever get pennies back online / we’ll never make enough money to have a newsroom as big as it was ten years ago.

True(ish), and true. Sadly, we know the future requires the business to be leaner and more flexible than we are now, and despite years of seemingly endless restructures and job losses, we will have to make further reductions. We are building the new model by asking the question: “What size newsroom can we afford, given what we know about our current and future digital scale, how much programmatic revenue we get, and how much new digital revenue we think is out there in the market?”. The answer, after some posts have been put back into print, is a newsroom that has a handful of roles fewer than currently. We don’t know the exact figure yet, because we want to build the new newsroom in consultation with our news team.

If you’re focused on digital 100% you might not have enough words to fill tomorrow’s paper. In an analytics-driven newsroom, you go for the stories that engage more people more meaningfully — and tell them using audio, video, data and graphics, if that’s what’s needed. You don’t write stories to fill a pre-assigned slot for an audience that isn’t there. In print, however, we promise spreads for specific football teams and other setpieces, and you can’t easily make a page feature out of a video, either. So in the new world, we’re giving the print side of the business some dedicated print-only writers to ensure our newspaper readers continue to get get value-for-money every day. This liberates the digital news team to deploy its resources to serve the most people in the most engaging way. Sure, the print unit can take all the words and pictures they like from the website, but now they’ll have a small team to help fill any gaps.

When you’ve achieved scale, you have to build engagement. In an ideal world, you’d do both, but the entry price in the digital game is an audience of scale, so that’s what we’ve focussed on for the past few years. Now we’ve achieved it (35m monthly PVs), this scale gives us permission to deepen and enrich our relationships with our audiences, and to build new ones. We want people to read more articles on the site, watch more videos, stay longer and come back more often. With better engagement, particularly with a local audience, comes more alluring opportunities for advertisers who value targeting and trust in equal measure. So in our new world, we’ll be marrying the eternal values of excellent journalism — standing up for our readers and championing their interests — with the analytical tools of the 21st century. Through analytics, research and shoe leather, we’ll be building up pictures of more communities in Birmingham, and devising ways of super-serving them through excellent journalism, social media, info, and whatever else it takes. Every one of our writers will develop an audience to cover and serve. Sometimes that ‘patch’ might well be geographical, but more often, I suspect, it will be defined along the lines of communities of interest. For example, tens of thousands of Brummies use buses every day, but I’m not sure we’re currently serving them in the best way we can. To help accelerate our audience plans, we’ll be working with the team at Hearken to ensure we’re truly listening and learning from our readers. We’ll also construct our rotas to give writers the time they need to nurture these new communities.

A newspaper brand can be a double-edged sword. We’re changing our name online from BirminghamMail.co.uk to BirminghamLive, (but the Birmingham Mail will continue to serve the city in print six days a week). For me, this has been one of the hardest aspects of planning this change — I grew up in this city, and my dad brought home the (then) Evening Mail every night. However, I’m 100% sure the name change is the right thing to do, for a number of reasons.

A newspaper brand carries a lot of baggage with it, whether or not a person is familiar with the specific title. Birmingham is the youngest and most diverse city in the UK, so hundreds of thousands of people who we want to reach grew up in households that never even read the newspaper, and they may never in their lives have picked up the Mail in print. And with a newspaper brand comes the limiting perception of what newspapers do and how they should do it. Take a look at the annoyingly brilliant Angry People in Local Newspapers blog to understand what I mean by a limiting perception. When we try new content and approaches, this can sometimes jar with some people’s perceptions of what we’re ‘allowed’ to do as a newspaper brand.

For advertisers well-versed in digital marketing, I’m afraid the continuing perception of the newspaper industry as being ‘yesterday’s medium’ endures, despite the reality. The newspaper brand can be a blocker to meaningful conversations with agencies and clients who should, in fact, be drawn to our extraordinary reach into our communities, and our unique relationships with our readers.

With a new brand related to, but separate from, the legacy newspaper identity, I believe we can forge new relationships with readers and advertisers.

Sometimes the best way to engage with a new audience might be something other than your own website. It might even be something other than journalism. When we discover more about potential new audiences in Birmingham, we need to provide the solutions and services they want and will actually engage with, and not necessarily just a version of the journalism we already do. In the smartphone age, only 5% of the average person’s attention is devoted to news on their device. Can we build a business by limiting ourselves to 5% of people’s attention, or can we own more of the remaining 95%? We are creating a ‘Build’ unit within our newsroom whose task is to delve deep into what Brummies want and come up with new ideas about ways to serve them. Often, the answer will be new and different content, but we need to be prepared to build something when the answer is ‘a new app’, ‘a new social page’ or even ‘a new event’.

But the Indie’s gone digital, as have a load of magazines and trade publications — what’s different here? Lots of titles are going digital only, that’s true — but only after shutting their print incarnations. What’s different in Birmingham is we’re building a sustainable digital business structure now to sit alongside our print business, so we’re ready for the challenge when it comes, rather than respond in the middle of a real crisis. I believe there remains several years’ profitable life in the Birmingham Mail in print, but that doesn’t mean we should put off the creation of a digital-only model until the last minute. That would be a massively risky strategy in my view. What kind of foundations will remain for us to build on as print gasps its last breaths? We owe it to our readers, our advertisers and our hard working journalists to build the future now, while we still can.

It’s time to take possession of the keys to our new house.

By Marc Reeves
Published September 18, 2017

From Mediashift:
http://bit.ly/2zbFALm

 

Sale of News & Record property part of a newspaper industry trend

The News and Record Campus

GREENSBORO — Faced with dwindling print circulation and moving toward 24-hour digital publication, newspapers have become multimedia companies with smaller staffs and operations centers.

Online news and shorter press runs mean news companies aren’t bound by their massive printing plants and high-profile headquarters that once dominated city centers across the nation. The chance to raise cash and eliminate overhead means many of those news companies are selling their properties.

The News & Record’s parent company, BH Media, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, joined the trend in September, when it announced it will sell the newspaper’s 6.7-acre office and press complex on East Market Street, between Davie and Church streets, in the heart of downtown.

In late September the daily printing of the News & Record was consolidated at the newly expanded BH Media Print Facility in Winston-Salem.

The sale of the company’s downtown property could be a boon to developers and the city’s prospects for growth, not to mention the windfall it likely will mean for BH Media.

“Getting a cash infusion like that is very helpful to papers for investment and reinvestment, which is not so easy to come by with profitability,” said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst and the leader of news transformation at the nonprofit Poynter Institute, one of the nation’s leading journalism education organizations. “It’s kind of a win-win for the newspaper and the city.”

Reliable sources
City and business leaders say the land could be a prime spot for anything from apartments to a skyscraper. Given what developers are doing in other cities, they’ve got plenty of ideas to contemplate.

“These opportunities seldom come around,” said Zack Matheny, the president and chief executive officer of Downtown Greensboro Inc., the city’s downtown economic development agency.

In Charlotte, a city with an already impressive skyline, a developer is building a 33-story building on The Charlotte Observer’s former site in the heart of downtown.

The Chicago Tribune sold its famed Tribune Tower in 2016 to a company that will build a $240 million mixed-use development.

The Boston Globe signed a deal in August to sell its 16.5-acre former headquarters to a developer.

In Miami, the Herald sold its former movie-set site on Biscayne Bay to a resort developer.

And there are many more such examples, as newspaper owners provide a boon to developers and investors. For cities such as Greensboro that are looking to rebrand and revitalize their downtowns, this can be an unexpected gift.

“It’s not often that a piece of that size becomes available, so I think it’s very important that whatever goes down there will really enhance the downtown community,” Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said. “We need something that’s really going to make a statement.”

The property already has played a role in one big growth boom for Greensboro, during the 1920s.

The News & Record, which traces its roots to 1890, has operated at its 200 E. Market St. site since 1976. From the early 1920s until 1976, the newspaper, first the Greensboro Daily News, was two blocks away at Davie Street and Friendly Avenue in what is now the Cultural Arts Center.

A bit of background
Fifty years before the newspaper moved to Market Street, the King Cotton Hotel held court as one of the region’s largest and most opulent hotels. It opened in early 1927, held 225 rooms and cost $1.3 million.

It was surrounded by some of the city’s landmark properties. Just four years earlier, the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co. had completed construction of its headquarters at Market and Elm streets. It was the largest and tallest office building in the South, according to News & Record research, with 23 carloads of marble brought in to line the corridors of the $2.5 million tower.

The year King Cotton opened, the city also opened its War Memorial Stadium for minor league baseball and the Carolina Theatre. The theater still thrives with concerts and classic films, and N.C. A&T plays baseball in the stadium.

Greensboro’s growing railroad industry was about to have a little competition from the newly opened airport, the first major commercial airport in North Carolina.

The King Cotton Hotel had faded by the 1960s, and the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission bought the property. In 1971 the hotel was razed by implosion and more history was revealed: Someone found an old bayonet buried in the rubble, possibly left there since before the Civil War, when it was the site of an inn. Five years later, the newspaper moved into a state-of-the-art headquarters and press complex.

The News & Record itself is the product of two local papers more than a century old. The Greensboro Daily News and The Greensboro Daily Record were separate companies until the News bought the Record in 1930. In 1965, Landmark Communications of Norfolk, Va., bought the two papers, and in March 1984 they were merged into one morning publication, the Greensboro News & Record. BH Media bought the newspaper in 2013.

The company’s owners say that after the current building is sold, its news and advertising staff will move into a new space in or near downtown.

Special delivery
The newspaper’s site and the 3.5 acres next to the property on Church and Washington streets, which is owned by Commonwealth Building Co., a part of former owner Landmark, could be combined for a roughly 10-acre development spanning a prime city parcel between East Market and Washington streets.

The blocks includes plenty of road access thanks to Hughes Street, which divides the properties from east to west and equal to the three blocks between North Greene and North Elm streets that include both Lincoln Financial towers, the Center Pointe office and condo tower and the Greensboro Marriott Downtown hotel with its adjoining parking deck.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of development is underway or in the pipeline in the northern end of downtown, and Matheny said this is a unique opportunity to put a real estate centerpiece a block from Elm Street, downtown’s backbone.

“We don’t have another site in downtown Greensboro with one or two owners that could be 6 1/2 to almost 10 acres,” Matheny said.

Greensboro has several developers with pockets deep enough to buy and build on the News & Record’s site.

The 6.7 acres is valued on Guilford County tax rolls at $9.9 million, and the company is asking $10.9 million for the property.

Other sites that once held older buildings in underdeveloped parts of downtown are now attracting tens of millions in development projects valued at tens of millions of dollars.

A public-private partnership between the city of Greensboro and the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is building the $78.1 million Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts on 5.5 acres at North Elm and Bellemeade streets.

Two blocks away, Greensboro developer Roy Carroll is building the $70 million Carroll at Bellemeade, an apartment and hotel project on 4.5 acres.

And the city plans to build an eight-story parking deck on Bellemeade, near the downtown baseball stadium that’s home to the Greensboro Grasshoppers. This 1,050-space deck would provide the foundation for a 15- to 20-story mixed-use building that city officials say Carroll is planning.

Another office building is under construction across the street, hard against the ballpark.

But properties farther south, closer to the heart of downtown, haven’t sparked many projects, though developers reportedly are planning a Westin Hotel on South Elm Street near February One Place

Carroll has been talking for a couple of years about a 561-foot skyscraper he would like to build downtown. And although he is currently juggling more than $1 billion worth of developments throughout the Southeast, including a new hotel project at a proposed ballpark in downtown High Point, Carroll said the News & Record’s site would be ideal for just about anything.

“That size property in a downtown area has potential to create its own synergy,” he said.

Dateline: Main Street
Whether it’s a small-town outfit or a big-time daily, many newspapers are situated in the heart of the communities they serve. That in itself makes their sites catalysts for revitalization.

In Greenville, S.C., for instance, a developer has taken 4 acres on Main Street once owned by The Greenville News and is building what it calls the Camperdown project, named after the city’s once-flourishing Camperdown Mill.

In addition to a new building for the newspaper, this mixed-use development will be transformative for the city, adding a 140-room hotel and 217 apartments.

By Richard M. Barron
Published October 7, 2017

From the Greensboro News and Record:
http://bit.ly/2hZVe8y

 

Analyzing Google’s Plan to Rescue the Newspaper Industry

Louis Basanese

I almost feel bad for subscription news companies (formally known as newspapers).

Talk about death by a thousand cuts…

According to The Atlantic, “Between 2000 and 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, wiping out the

But the revenue destruction is only half the story…

The demise of print media has also served to erode society.

America’s skilled workforce of journalists has been replaced by Twitter/Facebook troglodytes. And somewhere within that perverse transition, we lost sight of the truth.

Will we ever find truth again?

Let’s start with a half-truth…

Google suddenly seems keen on saving the beleaguered newspaper industry.

Weird, right? Google says that it’s reversing a decade-old policy that forces publishers to offer free web content in order to get primo search-engine listings.

But before you start nibbling on shares of The New York Times Cos. (NYSE: NYT) or Time Inc. (NYSE: TIME)…

Let’s unpack the timing of Google’s odd decision and then I’ll determine whether or not it’s worthy of an investment.

The Fake News Dilemma

With great power comes great responsibility.

And Google, as the world’s undisputed leader in web search, wields quite a bit of power.

As Louis notes above, Google has forced publishers of news content to offer readers several free articles to be included in its popular Search or News apps — even if they have a paywall.

This policy made a wealth of free information available to the world, and generated a flood of traffic for Google.

But it also led to the demise of hundreds — if not thousands — of reputable news organizations who bore the expense of producing Google’s subsidized “free news.”

So why after all these years would it reverse the policy?

The answer is simple… fake news.

Investigations launched in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election found scores of false news stories made their way to the top of Google search results.

As you may know, Google uses a powerful, hands-off algorithm to pick precisely which websites match a search query.

And with enough firepower, an entity can easily prop up free, fake news stories before they’re flagged.

It’s impossible to know for sure, but investigators believe that fake news could have had a material impact on the election’s result.

Google, under fire from both sides of the aisle in Washington, decided to take action to stomp out fake news by reversing its FCF policy.

The decision will undoubtedly boost the shares of premium publishers like The New York Times in the short term.

But the damage of FCF to paid journalism has already been done…

Publishers still rely on web traffic from places like Google and Facebook.

And if overall search volume goes down as free articles disappear, many publishers won’t win the long game.

The Future of “News”

The relationship between Google and the newspapers had been a symbiotic one. Google lured readers into a few articles a month from each newspaper, thereby encouraging them to buy subscriptions.

Now the freebies that encourage readers both to use Google and to read the newspapers are disappearing.

So who wins?

It isn’t necessarily Google. Many people have a need to get the news — and analysis of the news — in as reliable and thoughtful a manner as possible.

For them, genuine journalism is essential.

For others, news is merely another form of entertainment — from celebrity snippets, sports, crime news, etc.

For the second contingent, the content they desire doesn’t require genuine journalism.

That means the market will be segregated…

At the top end, newspapers employing their own journalists will continue, although the web will become their principal delivery mechanism. Advertisers will continue to want to reach this market — and will pay to do so — while its consumers will pay for subscriptions in moderation for the content they want and need.

At the low end, content providers will continue to be synergistic with Google, splitting the advertising revenues that result.

While that doesn’t make Google supreme, it does mean that it will be a conduit for all types of news going forward — similar to the cable TV companies in the 1980s.

Google’s Next Revenue Stream

Much like we discussed yesterday in relation to the demise of broadcast television at the hands of streaming video, all that matters for us as investors here is growth.

While The New York Times and other legacy print publications are making impressive strides to convert to all-digital models, they’re burdened with too many costs. Any impressive digital growth is going to be weighed down by the vestiges of the old model.

That means we should be on the hunt for up-and-coming, all-digital news outlets.

With high-quality work and enough traction, their growth promises to be unbounded. The only problem? Most of these newcomers are still privately held, so we can’t invest in them directly.

That leaves us with Google.

As Google’s vice president of news rightly pointed out to the Financial Times, “Advertising alone can no longer pay for high-quality journalism.”

The only hope is a combination of advertising and subscription revenue, with the latter playing an increasingly critical role.

And as Martin articulated, Google isn’t just an advertising juggernaut. It’s also an increasingly vital conduit, which opens up a new growth opportunity — bundling subscriptions to multiple news outlets and taking a cut of the action.

After all, it’s a hassle to remember a half dozen or so log-ins and enter them every time you find a relevant article in a Google search. By eliminating this hassle, Google could deliver a valuable benefit to users and create a new revenue stream in the process.

It’s a win-win!

The latest data indicate that the time is ripe to consider such an offering, too. In the last year, consumers’ willingness to pay for online news increased notably across every age group:

In other words, consumers are quickly waking up to the reality that you get what you pay for, even when it comes to news.

Bottom line: As Jonathan concluded before, “Publishers won’t win the long game” in the new digital paradigm. So we need to go where there’s unlimited growth potential, and that means betting on the advertisers and traffic generators instead.

By Louis Basenese
Published October 6, 2017

From Wall Street Daily:
http://bit.ly/2hZP2xb

 

Michael Kennedy recognizes the value of a newspaper

Michael Kennedy

After 41 years of experience, Professor Michael Kennedy recognizes the value of the newspaper industry for National Newspaper Week.

Kennedy, a professor at Chadron State College, was first interested in photojournalism.

“When I was a boy, I always liked art.” Kennedy said. “When I was sick, my mom would bring me these paint-by-number things and I always liked the pictures.”

Growing up with National Geographic and Life magazines as a common household item, Kennedy realized his love for art and photography. While he was interested in art, Kennedy said he never realized that photography could even be a career option for him. Athletics became a main goal for him as he continued through high school and into college.

With aspirations of being a P.E. teacher and a coach, Kennedy began his college career but soon lost interest. He began working construction after flunking out of his junior year of college and began to search for other career paths.

“I happened to be reading the National Geographic magazine one evening and I saw this stunning picture of a white wolf in the Antarctic someplace taken by some guy and I thought ‘That’s it,’” Kennedy said.

In 1976, Kennedy re-enrolled and began his first photojournalism course at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He began the long journey of mastering all aspects of photojournalism.

“I wasn’t very good when I started, and I’m not quite sure I’m good now,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy begged to enter the journalism school at Marshall University after failing the mandatory typing test. His pleas sufficed and he started to learn all aspects of journalism, such as reporting, layout and design.

After bouncing around between schooling and professional work in both West Virginia and Texas, Kennedy finally left with a degree from California University of Pennsylvania in California, Pennsylvania, in 1986.

Kennedy went on to writing for various newspapers around the country, including the Pottsville Republican, a Pulitzer Prize winning paper in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He also has experience teaching around the country and in the Middle East. His current position at Chadron State College, where he started in 2008, includes teaching courses like photojournalism, journalism, media law and design. He is the adviser of the Eagle newspaper.

Decades in the newspaper industry has given Kennedy a solid viewpoint on the changes in journalism and the future of newspaper.

“When I was in classes, we used to have to count letters to get headlines spaced properly,” Kennedy said to describe the main difference in newspapers past and present.

Technology has had a major impact on the newspaper industry, and Kennedy claims he has seen the production need of newspaper completely change.

While Kennedy spent time manually spacing his text and producing his photos, most of the work is now done on pagination software on a computer. The technology used today, although constantly evolving, was in its infancy when Kennedy began classes in 1976. His professors advised him that they would be using computer software in their future careers.

“One thing that has not changed since the ‘70s, when I was in college, is the public service that the news and responsible journalists do,” Kennedy said.

News seems to be instantaneous in today’s society, but Kennedy claims there is error in rushing.

“I’d rather be right and late than the first to publish and wrong.”

Kennedy believes the death of newspapers is a myth. Local and community newspapers are thriving and will continue to thrive if the journalism is handled correctly.

“There is so much out there, (the public) doesn’t know what they can trust,” Kennedy said. “They’re returning to the community newspapers and those things they can trust and have trusted over the years.

While those currently in the industry must constantly adapt to new technology, Kennedy advises that up-and-coming journalists remember the substance of journalism. Taking large, national stories and making them relevant to their community while also remaining fair, accurate and balanced in their reporting will ensure success for the future of the newspaper industry.

By Torri Brumbaugh
Published October 6, 2017

From The Star Herald:
http://bit.ly/2i1PKdv

In paywall age, free content remains king for newspaper sites

THE MAJORITY OF AMERICA’S largest newspapers continue to employ digital subscription strategies that prioritize traffic, ad revenues, and promotion—despite the ongoing collapse of display ad rates.

Even as they’ve added paying Web subscribers by the hundreds of thousands, daily newspapers have decisively rejected an all-in approach featuring “hard” website paywalls that mimic their print business models. Instead, most are employing either “leaky” paywalls with unlimited “side doors” for non-subscribers or no paywalls at all, according to a CJR analysis of the nation’s 25 most-visited daily newspaper sites.

There was little agreement on a paywall strategy and certainly no consensus solution to the problem of the “ideal” newspaper paywall. The paywalled news sites, 15 in total, diverged widely in the cost of their subscriptions, the number of free articles dispensed, the specific combination of “side door” exceptions employed, and whether they operated via one flagship website or two—one free and one for subscribers.

Despite what seems like widespread optimism about the prospect of digital subscriptions buttressing the industry, a full 10 sites, 40 percent of the outlets we looked at, focused on ad revenue exclusively, eschewing paywalls.

News executives who spoke with CJR expressed confidence in their company’s approach and cited their favorite figures to back it up. But without examining internal data, the best way to gauge whether they were right will be to check back in a few years and see whether each is sticking with their approach. No matter the format, the prospect of news organizations relying on paywalls as primary drivers of revenue still seems remote.

ICYMI: The problem with local TV isn’t that the product is partisan or under-resourced or “fake.” The problem is that it’s lame.

Sites with higher traffic seemed more likely to employ paywalls, though that may not be true beyond the 25 outlets we examined. Back in May, CJR analyzed paywall policies and spoke to executives at some a handful of national newspapers and magazines. They explained the goals of the “leaky” paywall with unlimited “side doors”: data gathering, promotion, and a continued central role in the public conversation.

One of the few clear patterns was that newspapers within the same ownership network had identical or nearly identical policies, with just one exception. Local factors in a newspaper’s home city seemed to play less of a role.

Here’s how our study worked.

The Alliance for Audited Media provided CJR with a list of all the daily newspapers in the US with circulation over 100,000. Comscore ranked the traffic of those paper’s websites and winnowed that list to the 25 outlets with the most-visited websites.

We visited each site. If a site had a paywall, we noted the monthly cost of a digital-only subscription. Then, through testing, we determined the number of articles allowed per month to non-subscribers, and whether the site’s paywall left open “side doors” for “private” browsing (when users set their browsers to reject tracking “cookies”), search referrals, and social media referrals. For sites without paywalls, we recorded the monthly price of a digital “e-newspaper” subscription.

(For a more detailed explanation of paywall “side doors,” see CJR’s article from May of this year on exceptions used by national newspapers and magazines).

The “leaky” paywall with “side doors”

 

The most common paywall strategy among the daily newspaper publishers we studied was metered access for non-subscribers with one or two unlimited “side door” exceptions. This is the model first deployed by the Times in 2011 and since adopted by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Tronc and Hearst stables of papers, among others.

“The metered paywall is seen as a best practice in the industry,” says Mark Campbell, Tronc’s senior vice president for digital marketing, in an interview with CJR.

Tronc’s publications all have identical subscription policies: $7.98 per month; five metered articles; exceptions for “private” browsing and search, but not social media.

The publisher transitioned to a single, company-wide policy in March 2016. Before that, each paper set its own rules. “Having one policy across all properties,” says Campbell, “we can be hyper-efficient in the ways we manage our meter rules and roll-out test results.”

Tronc is investigating the possibility of installing a metered paywall at the New York Daily News, which the company bought in early September, Campbell says. If Tronc follows through, it would be the Daily News’s first paywall in its history.

The reason Tronc publications make an exception for search referrals, Campbell explains, was to comply with Google’s First Click Free program. Google normally only indexes publically-available Web pages, that is, those not behind paywalls. With First Click Free, the search giant offers to index paywalled content as normal, so long as publishers maintain exceptions in their paywalls for readers arriving via search queries. The paywall only kicks in when the reader clicks on another story.

ICYMI: An interactive timeline of developments at Facebook

Tronc used to exempt social media referrals as well. The company changed the policy last June. The decision was “based on research and extensive testing,” Campbell says. “It’s a tradeoff between ad revenue and subscription revenue.”

More exceptions means more traffic, but less incentive for non-subscribers to subscribe. Just how much more traffic and how much less likely readers are to sign up, that’s proprietary information. And, it varies case by case.

“We don’t have want to have a ‘hard’ paywall,” Campbell says. “We’re not going to not let our readers sample the content.”

“Hard” paywalls

 

Of the 25 publications we studied, not one used a properly “hard” paywall such as the one The Wall Street Journal employed until last year, with no metered articles or “side doors.”

But, the Boston Globe comes closest. The paywall at BostonGlobe.com was the only one we studied that had no unlimited exceptions whatsoever. Non-subscribers get two metered articles per month, and that’s it.

“We have to figure out our own path,” Peter Doucette, the Globe’s Chief Consumer Revenue Officer, tells CJR. “We might not be able to apply the same model as the national and international publishers, because we don’t have the scale.”

The Globe also has the second most expensive digital subscription in the set, at $15.96 per month, trailing only The Wall Street Journal. “Growing our digital subscriber base is our number one corporate objective,” says Doucette.

The Globe went no-exceptions back in March, when it closed the “side door” for people using their browser’s “private” mode. “We believe that people were using [the “private” browsing exception] as a way to circumvent the paywall,” says Doucette. “We were just trying to see what would happen if we closed that loophole”

And, the experiment worked, he says. “We’ve been pretty pleased with the results. We’ve had a fair number of new subscribers coming in through that mechanism.”

 

The two-website, “metered freemium” model

The Globe’s emphasis on driving subscriptions over maximizing traffic at BostonGlobe.com is only half the story. Unlike the national outlets and those owned by Tronc, the Globe operates two official websites, not one.

The second site, Boston.com, is free to read and monetized entirely through advertising.

“BostonGlobe.com is the home of the Globe’s journalism digitally,” Doucette explains. “Boston.com has a separate newsroom covering similar topics, but more in a lifestyle, things-to-do, community-focused way.”

This two-site “freemium” structure, which the Globe adopted in 2011, works in some ways like the “leaky” paywall, allowing the company to pursue both subscriptions and high traffic and ad revenue at the same time.

“From a business perspective,” says Doucette, “we were able to create two different experiences that two target two distinct audiences, each with its own monetization model.”

“Boston.com is a marketing channel for the Globe,” he says, adding that the site’s primary mission was to serve readers. The overlap between the two sites’ audiences is only about 10 percent, he says.

The Houston Chronicle, owned by Hearst, also uses this metered freemium approach, with a “leaky” paywall on houstonchronicle.com, and none on chron.com. It’s worth noting both the Globe and the Chronicle switched over the last few years from a traditional “freemium” model—two sites, one free, one with a hard paywall—to their current “metered freemium” structure.

The San Francisco Chronicle, owned by Hearst, switched from a traditional “freemium” model to a straightforward “leaky” paywall in 2013.

The “very leaky” paywall

 

A handful of other publishers, including McClatchy and Gannett (with one exception, see below), are employing a paywall strategy at the opposite extreme to the Globe’s, leaving all three “side doors” open.

“We’ve chosen to not have a ‘hard’ wall.” says Dan Schaub, corporate director of audience development at McClatchy. “We’ve also chosen not to attack things that can be described as a workaround.”

The main reason, he explained, is promotion. Like a meter, paywall exceptions allow people to sample content. “People coming through these channels,” Schaub explains, “these are people who are not connected to your brand. But, they’re looking for content. You’re allowing them to come in through these exceptions. You’re bringing them in your front door and letting them see the kind of work you do.”

“Side door,” for the record, is not a technical term. Schaub argued that today’s paywall “abuser” could become tomorrow’s paying reader.

“You start with the assumption that most people are honest, that most people do the right thing,” Schaub says. “It’s known that we have a wall. So, if we’ve proven our value, they should subscribe.”

McClatchy’s sites also offer two weeks of paywall access for non-subscribers who create accounts. In the meantime, visitors mean traffic, and that means ad revenue. “There’s absolutely an advertising business model [online],” says Schaub, “It’d be crazy not to advertise. On the other hand, we’ve always been paid-for content.”

 

The no-paywall approach

A total of 10 of the 25 newspapers employed no paywall whatsoever, making all their content freely available online. Of those, all but the New York Post offered an alternative form of digital subscription, the e-newspaper. For prices ranging for $2.12 per month to $24.00 per month, site visitors can sign up to have a digitized version of the physical newspaper emailed to their inboxes seven days a week.

The Detroit Free Press offers its e-newspaper for $4.99 a month after promotions. The paper is unique among Gannett’s 109 dailies in not employing any form of paywall.

Detroit is a unique market. If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it.”

Andy Yost, Gannett’s chief marketing officer, says the Free Press lowered its paywall in 2009 as part of the same restructuring that saw both the Free Press and the Detroit News—the city’s other major paper, which shares business management with the Free Press—significantly cut back home delivery. “It was uniquely driven by competitive forces at play in that market, pressures on the consumer revenue side, a need to meet advertising goals,” says Yost.

Incidentally, this was the only time local factors of any kind came up in our interviews. “They decided to open the paywall. That delivered audience and traffic.”

Gannett has left that policy in place since, despite the fact the company’s other 108 other newspapers operate paywalls of the “very leaky” variety described above. “Detroit is a unique market,” says Yost. “If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it.”

The logic of the no-paywall model is straightforward, anyway. Maximize traffic, maximize advertising revenue.

Advance Publications and Digital First Media, the largest owners of no-paywall publications on our list, declined to comment for this story.

A bright digital subscription future for daily newspapers?

The daily news executives we spoke with all pushed back against suggestions of doom and gloom in the digital publishing industry. Each expressed confidence in his organization’s approach and pointed to positive recent trends in subscriber, audience, and revenue growth. They also highlighted what they saw as encouraging new trends.

“This is a good time,” says McClatchy’s Schaub.

More people, in general, are making far more purchases online, he says, in part because of the spread of more secure, more convenient payment systems. “That’s not a media world issue,” he says. “That’s a digital issue,” he says. “Consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea that an exchange can happen and it’s safe.”

Schaub didn’t say so, but this might be especially true of newspapers readers, who tend to skew older.

Mark Aldam, president of Hearst Newspapers, whose outlets employ “leaky” paywalls, expressed optimism as well. “The menu of paid experiences [online] will continue to expand,” he says, referring to digital products in general, including news. “The possibility for success in the paid digital economy is on the rise.”

Aldam also pointed to what he says were major improvements in reader data collection and, consequently, in the industry’s ability to target its promotion and advertising.

“The big change is we’re getting a background,” he says. “We’re collecting data and marketing information. That’s been a huge deficiency for all of us. That could alter the basic relationship we have with our readers.”

For now, though, as far as digital subscriptions, a large part of the daily newspaper industry still seems to be experimenting.

By Ariel Stulberg
Published September22, 2017

From Columbia Journalism Review:
http://bit.ly/2htK3ER

Is Newspaper Advertising Worth The ROI?

The death of the newspaper industry hasn’t occurred as predicted. In actuality, it has picked up steam, with nearly 70% of the population reading newspapers on the regular, according to Nielsen research. While this is certainly good news for publishers, it hasn’t been the rise in revenue the publishing industry was banking on. Ad revenue hasn’t met the circulation surge, as reported by Pew Research Center, leaving many publishers scratching their heads.

Below, 15 Forbes Agency Council members give their takes on whether newspapers are worth the investment for advertisers when it comes to promoting their business.

1. It’s All About The Target Audience

Newspapers ad sales have declined over the years as “digital” grew in market share, but they certainly remain winners for many advertisers. I don’t feel that a drastic change in ad spend following a trend would be wise to incorporate, but as we see a rise in readership from certain audiences, it might be smart to incorporate newspaper ads into the mix if the target audiences align. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

2. Local Magazines Are A Better Print Option

In terms of newspaper advertising, I don’t see much of an opportunity here. When most people want the news they use their phone, go on the internet or watch it on TV. With that being said, I think running local ads in local magazines is a great way to advertise via print. – Chris Ake, Grand Apps

3. Any Ad Not Spurring Extreme Emotion Isn’t Worth It

Media brands are very aware of who their readers are and what types of stories will drive traffic. The recent election has spurred growth in some very interesting businesses, showing that there is a unique opportunity for advertisers if they approach it in the right (tasteful) way. Also, if advertisers extended their static ads with dynamic web or mobile experiences, it could yield higher ROI. – Chi Zhao, Hokku PR

4. If It’s Relevant To The Target, Leverage It

With growing lack of trust in media as a whole, newspapers still hold solid credibility. They’re widely read by media and influencers and can be a key vehicle to reaching opinion leaders. Let’s face it: At times there is nothing more impactful than a well crafted full-page newspaper ad. If you do a placement, find ways to leverage it more broadly in your mobile/digital and PR strategy, as well. – Daryl McCullough, Citizen Relations

5. Yes, When Combined With Online Opportunities

Newspaper advertising can be efficient but we like to combine it with online opportunities, e-blasts and “sponsored content.” We are also seeing many newspapers expand their services to include SEO, re-targeting, website design, social media and much more, just to stay afloat. Newspapers have had to re-invent themselves to stay current, much like the field of public relations has had to. – Duree Ross, Durée & Company.com

6. Certain Types Of Ads Work Better In Print

Newspaper has traditionally been a strong performer for local businesses’ transactional messaging, which is the easiest to test. For example, if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, run an ad with a limited-time coupon. Then calculate sales on coupon transactions and determine your ROI. Of course there is still the added awareness, however, that can never be precisely measured. – Diana Wolff, LRG Marketing

7. A Deciding Factor Is Liability

In theory, any real estate is an opportunity, but we’ve seen that sheer placement can cause perception of topic association that may not be true. In today’s polarized political climate, newspapers themselves have been assigned alleged “red”/”blue” affiliation, and advertisers are right to walk cautiously toward more eyeballs, for fear of losing potential increased revenue to brand damage control. – Elizabeth Poston, Helios Interactive

8. It’s Time To Move On

As an advertiser, you want to reach targeted audiences and generate repeat, memorable impressions to potential customers. In that perspective, newspapers don’t have much to offer. Your ad is being seen by every reader. Unlike Facebook, Google or influencer marketing, there’s no guarantee every dollar you spend will reach a potential customer. In today’s world, why settle for anything less? – Gil Eyal, HYPR!

9. The Medium Should Fit The Message

As with all advertising delivery platforms, the medium must fit the strategy. Newspaper ads can be costly depending on the publication, likely will only be seen in a quick moment, and there is no solid way to track conversion. However, for the right campaign, or as a component of a larger initiative, they can be a game changer, making more of a tangible statement than digital ever could. – Goran Paunovic, ArtVersion Interactive Agency

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
10. It Depends On Your Target Audience

With any form of promotion, the largest factor is the target audience. Newspaper advertising can be a hit when combined with additional digital advertising methods: native ad content, e-blasts, social media integration, etc. Advertising can exist nearly anywhere and newspapers have done a lot to keep up with digital/print industry trends – this shouldn’t be ignored. – Jenelle Coy, Coy +

11. There Is Opportunity If An Omnichannel Solution Is Offered

If the newspaper publisher offers an omnichannel approach for content and advertising distribution, it could be a good ad buy if target demographics and readership align. An increase in print subscriptions may not translate to an increase in eyeballs for advertisers, which is why it’s important for brands to orchestrate a consistent and seamless message across multiple channels and devices. – Jenna Vandenberg, 5ifty & 5ive

12. It Is Not Worth The ROI

It does not seem worth the ROI. The resurgence in subscriptions related to a political event reveals that users of this medium are likely seeking a specific interest, information about the election and current presidency. Therefore, unless the product being advertised serves as a direct solution to those queries, the ads will likely not see promising engagement. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo

13. It’s All About Balance And Engagement

Advertising is benefiting somewhat from the surge, but using a multichannel approach to marketing is key. In fact, email marketing continues to generate the highest ROI and is very complementary to advertising (including programmatic ads), social media and other channels. It’s all about balance and identifying the best ways to reach your target market in order to successfully engage with them. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

14. What Can’t Be Tracked Can’t Be Measured

With the rise of interactive advertising and wide employment of marketing automation tools, marketers have become skeptical of print ads. Clients are eager to see tangible results and nothing satisfies more than a clear chain reaction to a given campaign. Dollar for dollar, interactive ads are always a better bet given the ability to target, nurture and measure the effectiveness of a campaign. – Ricardo Casas, Fahrenheit Marketing

15. Where There Are Eyeballs, There Are Ad Opportunities

Wherever there are eyeballs, there are opportunities for businesses to advertise. We see this in sports. The NBA will soon have sponsors visible on players jerseys. If more people are reading newspapers, there are definitely opportunities to advertise. Special pricing and promotions make a good ad for print because readers will cut it out and leave it on their table or fridge. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize

Published September 21, 2017

From Forbes:
http://bit.ly/2hrLUK7

Just 22, this digital news publisher is ready to go old-school with print

Chas Hundley’s family first settled in the unincorporated town of Gales Creek, Oregon, (pop. less than 600) in 1883. A fifth-generation resident of Gales Creek, the 22-year-old grew up in the foothills of the Coast Range, where he still lives today.

When Hundley was a teenager, Gales Creek hit some hard times. It lost its post office and its tavern and its elementary school all within the span of about a year. So Hundley did what anyone would do who wanted to save his town: he started a news website.

The Gales Creek Journal — which covers Gales Creek, Glenwood, and Hillside — is now four years old, and expanding into a print newspaper, which will publish once a month. Hundley — who also recently launched a second news publication for the neighboring city of Banks and other incorporated communities — serves as the publication’s writer, photographer, editor, web designer, publisher and business analyst.

That’s right, a 22-year-old is single-handedly running two local news publications and now also turning them into a print product. In November, he plans to leave his full-time day job in tech to focus entirely on journalism. We chatted about his plans for his publications, and why he’s gung-ho on print, local journalism, and staying in a small town.

There’s a Facebook group called What’s your Plan B for journalists who want to pursue other careers. You’re 22 with a full-time day job in tech, and you’re leaving your job to focus full-time on journalism. I should start with an obvious question: What are you thinking?

It’s scary, but I’ve been doing journalism off and on part time for four years now. I’ve also been doing other things like marketing and other tech industry stuff in the same time period. But the truth is: I just really love journalism and the whole industry, and while tech is more stable and the pay is much better, it’s not for me.

I’m looking at the financial side of things and I’m a little nervous. But I don’t think I’m going to have regrets.

Why now?

I just got married and moved and things are a little more stable for me personally. I’ve been kicking this around for a while, and I recently sat down and ran the numbers and talked to other local journalists who are running other independent papers, and I realized it was feasible. As the idea solidified, I realized if I could do it, I should do it, so I’m going to do it.

Tell me more about Gales Creek and the stories that resonate in your community.

Gales Creek is an unincorporated community near the Coast Range of Oregon and traditionally has had an agricultural and logging based economy. It’s really, really small. The only government census lumped us in with a community that’s close, technically, but separated from us by a mountain.

The population is well under 1,000 in the region. The stories that resonate are local public interest stories. Those are stories about local businesses, or things that are happening with our school. And a lot of people want to know what’s going on with the road and fires, things that affect day-to-day living. There’s only one road in and out of Gales Creek, so when something happens to the road and blocks traffic, people want to know more about that. Those are the stories that people are reading a lot. And sometimes there’s a profile of someone in the community that resonates.

Did you grow up in Gales Creek?

I did. I live in the area and have for basically my entire life.

What about your staff?

I’m the only one on staff.

Oh. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a one-person newspaper staff before. How do you manage to wear all of the hats?

I don’t sleep a lot. I’m very careful with my time and that’s partially why I want to do this full time. I’m very, very careful to make sure I’m spending my time exactly where it’s needed. I have a technical background so I know enough about web development to run the websites, write the articles, and get the articles online. I’m both running the journalism side and the business side.

I do have a couple of partnerships. There’s a local town 40 miles away (Tillamook) that has a county online-only publication. I partnered heavily with them. We shared a main highway so whenever the highway shuts down, we partnered on articles to get information on what happened whenever it was shut down. I also partner with a local sports broadcaster because I am bad at sports. He does online sports broadcasting for the local school district and so he goes and gets the information, and I point people to him.

You started your publication when you were 18. I don’t know many 18-year-olds who start news publications. How did this get off the ground?

I was loosely interested in journalism growing up. The first article I got published was when I was 14 in one of the local newspapers. But I never considered it seriously. When I did hit 18, in “downtown” Gales Creek — which I say with quote marks around downtown — we lost most of our businesses in 12 months. Our only grocery store shut down. The tavern shut down. Our post office shut down. No one knew what was going on and it fractured the community because our gathering places were shutting down.

I thought “What can I do to bring that sense of community back?” My older brother and I came up with two ideas: one was launching a Chamber of Commerce and one was launching a news publication. They’re both still going. When I started, I just did an article a week, sometimes less. It was little more than a glorified blog when it started. As time went on, I started talking to local residents and officials and the need for local journalism became more pressing and it just kind of grew from there.

A lot of 22-year-olds wouldn’t necessarily want to be in a small town. I’m curious: What has drawn you to stay?

I did move to the suburbs of Portland for two years and I hated it. I missed the clean air, and I like seeing stars at night. I know every single person here. When I lived in Portland, I missed driving down the road and waving at a neighbor or throwing vegetables on a porch.

At a time when many publications — the Village Voice most recently — are dropping or cutting back their print editions, you’re creating one. I’m curious about the rationale behind moving from digital to print?

The area I cover is about 300 square miles and there’s one incorporated city in that entire chunk of land. It’s an area with poor internet access, and an older population that doesn’t use the internet regularly. I started out digital but I realized that I’m not reaching everyone. I want to get the paper out to everyone that I can, so I think print’s the way to go.

By Melody Kramer
Published September 25, 2017

From Poynter:
http://bit.ly/2hu8uBL

 

Could young people be the saviours of the newspaper industry?

Start them young if you want children to consumer newspapers, argues Sarah Jane Thomson

In 2006 I was told, rather disparagingly by a major newspaper publisher, that there was no appetite for a paper aimed at children.

They felt that the younger generation was only interested in digital channels and therefore, were wholly uninterested in the idea of a children’s newspaper.

This publisher was wrong.

Fast forward 11 years and a children’s newspaper (aimed at 7-14 year olds) has topped the children’s ABCs, ahead of the many monthly, cover-mounted and glossy magazines.

This bucks the trend of most other print media, with many newspapers seeing a steady decline in sales.
The fact is that children are consuming more news than ever before.

With social media and 24-hour news channels, they are bombarded with information from many sources and are faced with having to make sense of it all.

And this is no easy task.

‘Fake News’ is a hot topic at the moment and it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to extract the facts from unregulated news sources.

Research reveals that YouTube is the first place most children turn to when they want to find something out – and chances are, they’ll also find out lots more that they didn’t want to.

With this is mind, it is more important than ever to offer children factual information about events that are affecting them and the world around them.

We must encourage our children to seek out accurate information and help them understand the difference between regulated and unregulated media.

Newspapers are consumed in a very different way to online media – but children will read them in exactly the same way as an adult does.

We will all flick through a paper, picking out the headlines and features that are of most interest to us personally.

Research we have conducted over the years clearly shows that children are interested in serious news – not just light-hearted, amusing stories. Brexit, the environment and the housing crisis are all issues that young people are currently concerned about and want information on.

So why on earth are newspaper publishers not nurturing their readers of the future?

Children who grow up reading newspapers are far more likely to go on to read them as adults. Having a regular newspaper around the house in a world of digital technology is a refreshing sight. Making it the ‘norm’ for young people to read a paper would surely benefit the industry longer term?

We can all sit and bemoan the fact that the print industry is on a downward spiral.

However, we are looking at real evidence that the future generation is eager to consume factual, print media.

Perhaps newspaper publishers may now start to think more seriously about safeguarding their future readership and not be so quick to write off the idea of taking accurate news directly to children.

By Sarah Jane Thompson
Published September 19, 2017

From PR Week:
http://bit.ly/2hsLByM

 

Mort Zuckerman to newspaper industry: Drop Dead

By Jennifer Saba
Published September 5, 2017

From Reuters:
http://reut.rs/2eSmwsv

Maybe third time is a charm for Michael Ferro. The chairman of Tronc bought the New York Daily News from real-estate mogul Mort Zuckerman for $1 and the assumption of its liabilities. It’s a victory of sorts for the Chicago publisher, whose stock hovers near the price at which it fended off a takeover from Gannett. But it’s another sad marker in the decline of print newspapering.

Zuckerman, who has owned the Daily News since 1993, flirted with selling the paper before only to pull it off the market two years ago. That New York still supports both the Daily News and its cross-town rival, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, in the digital age is a near miracle. Many American cities can barely support one local newspaper, let alone two tabloids.

Perhaps that is why this go-around Zuckerman offloaded the Daily News – famous for its “Ford to City: Drop Dead” headline – for chump change and a nearly 50 percent stake in the New Jersey printing facility sitting on valuable waterfront property. Tronc is assuming nearly $30 million in pension liabilities and other obligations. The paper has endured bruising layoffs yet won a Pulitzer Prize it shared with ProPublica last year.

Tronc tried to buy gossip magazine US Weekly and a Chicago competitor the Sun-Times but failed. Snapping up the Daily News adds another big city to a portfolio that includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune in a bid to go after national advertising dollars. Yet that strategy eluded Tronc’s predecessor, Tribune.

Ferro managed to swat away Gannett’s entreaties last year. The largest U.S. newspaper chain offered to buy Tronc for $15 a share, and might have gone higher. It pulled its bid after Tronc’s foot-dragging and its own prospects began to turn. Gannett could possibly return.

Trouble is Tronc’s results have been dismal. Total revenue for the second quarter fell nearly 9 percent to $370 million on a 15 percent drop in advertising revenue. Adding a New York outpost may have some long-term appeal, but time is no friend to the fast-extinguishing print newspaper industry.

More newspaper job cuts at Gannett

By Mike Sunnucks
Published  September 8, 2017

From Phoenix Business Journal:
http://bit.ly/2eRkmcJ

Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) has cut some more jobs. The newspaper publisher has operations in Phoenix where it owns the Arizona Republic newspaper and has regional offices and facilities.

Gannett also owns USA Today and more than 100 newspapers including the Indianapolis Star, Detroit Free Press, Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register and Reno Gazette-Journal.

The media company had 17,100 employees in the U.S. at the end of 2016, according to Gannett’s annual report.

The most recent cuts happened this week. This round appears to be minor but comes on the heels of previous layoffs and restructuring moves by the Virginia-based media company.

“There are less than 1 percent of staff affected across Gannett,” a company spokesperson said.

The spokesperson declined to say what kind of positions were cut.

“We don’t comment on specifics of HR-related issues,” the spokesperson said.

Gannett and the Arizona Republic have gone through a number of layoffs, employee buyouts and restructuring efforts as print newspapers struggle in the digital and social media age.

Gannett spun off its more profitable television stations into a separate company called Tegna Inc. (NYSE: TGNA) in 2015.

KPNX-TV Channel 12 in Phoenix is owned by Tegna Inc.

Shares of Gannett closed down 2.22 percent Friday at $8.37, according to Google Finance.

Gannett stock is down 13.8 percent this year so far and down 30 percent the past 12 months, according to Google Finance.

The newspaper industry continues to try to adjust to consumers digital tastes and trying monetize online content in a communications age dominated by social media sites such as Facebook (NYSE: FB) and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR).

Tronc Inc. (Nasdaq: TRNC) is buying the New York Daily News from publisher Mort Zuckerman for $1 and assuming the tabloid’s liabilities.

Tronc owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and other papers.