Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sayonara Post, sayonara newspapers?

The Cincinnati Post will be history by the end of the year if all goes according to schedule. There have been tons of rumors over the past decade about what will happen to the Post after Scripps' joint operating agreement with Gannett runs out this year. The only certain thing is that Gannett has said it will not renew the joint operating agreement. Over the years, rumors have said Gannett will keep the Kentucky Post alive, or that the Post will exist only as a web site, or that Cox and the Dayton Daily News would take it over, or that the Post will close early (like next month), or that Scripps would trade for the Enquirer and give Gannett another property.

Today's monkey wrench is this: Scripps might be looking to totally get out of newspapers.
Executives at the Cincinnati-based company stated during an investor conference on Tuesday they are evaluating different options regarding its newspaper assets.

Scripps management said they have been looking at different strategies over the past six months to unlock more value in the stock. "Clearly the most advantageous route in some form or fashion [is to] separate the newspaper business from the rest of the business," said Joseph NeCastro, Scripp’s executive vice president/finance and administration, during the conference.

He acknowledged that the newspaper industry’s woes over the past year have accelerated management's actions to either spin off its newspaper division or possibly sell some papers. "Newspapers are much more troubled," NeCastro said at the conference. "It's hard to call the bottom."
The Scripps family might not go for separating the newspaper business from everything else, but those discussions are under way, the article says.

Though this is interesting news about a big local company, the Post didn't report this story today. The Enquirer has never been totally honest in print about its own business or the newspaper business in general, so we'll see if they report this tomorrow. If not, then we'll see if the Business Courier does anything with this.

UPDATE: At the Enquirer, Cliff Peale blogged this at 3:14 p.m., about 45 minutes after I did. This might indicate he's working on a story for tomorrow's newspaper, or a column for Sunday, or it might not.

UPDATE: Peale's Thursday morning story is here, and it's fairly complete. The Scripp's Rocky Mountain News' story is here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOPS! Might this be a typo in Peale's blog: "The company specifically DESIGNED to say the unit was for sale." Think that should be DECLINED like the other reports indicate?

Does the Enquirer still have WORD EDITORS? Maybe they took an unpaid vacation. Shhhh. Don't tell and we'll see how long it takes the Enquirer to notice...

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Someone at the Enquirer is reading your blog. They fixed the typo sometime today. Maybe they will start outsourcig web copy editing to the general public next!

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They fixed the link to the front pages that you had noted earlier.

Could outsourcing technolgy jobs to the general public be next since most of what it takes with that anymores is simply to pay attention.

This could save even more in payroll.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Another casualty said...

It's bad enough already, don't give them any ideas about outsourcing to the general public ... (NewsAche: great blog btw)

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gannett's local "leadership" has done wonders for the Post; i.e. helping to drive it into the ground.

One can only imagine what Buchanan is going to ultimately do to the Enquirer staff and the various local publications (Inspire, Design, Recorder/Press newspapers)....just waiting for her to pull the trigger.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you blame the Enquirer for Scripps' focus on "getting more value for shareholders." The Post is a tiny shadow of its former self, and circulation is almost nil. Gannett has been giving life support to the Post for years, and now they're pulling the plug. Scripps has sucked every bit of blood from The Post's carcass and now they'll just bury it.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is no secret (and obvious) that the Enquirer posts to the web without the benefit of a copy editing staff reading specifically for things such as factual errors and grammatical problems. Sooner or later it’ll catch up with them in a big way through litigation.

In the meantime, the grammar issues, short, meaningless junk that is being forced and confusing methods only frustrate readers to other media choices. Not as costly in the short term, but if the "paper" isn’t better than any blog or wiki, is there a reason for readers to pick the Enquirer? After all, anyone can blog drivel and other pages at least don’t force annoying roll up ads and demographic profiling. Then there are the continual broken links, links to the wrong story, garbage text...

It is a bad idea to point out specific errors because that only saves from having to read and verify things first. Thought that was what was what made the "paper" better. Maybe it’d justify the NECCESSITY for a trained editorial staff for a PROFESSIONAL media outlet to keep a tally or scoreboard...

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I will miss The Post. It might not class with The Times but it is a spunky paper that somehow keeps going in spite of the Enquirer strong arm and dismal circumstances. I hope it finds a place and a way to continue past the end of the year. So far, it’s been the only thing that keeps the Enquirer providing anything to Northern Kentucky.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE "Getting more value for shareholders".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the JOA agreement place adversting and circulation sales under Gannett's control? If so, nice work.

Admittedly, Scripps is not without blame. But, to appear to hold the Enquirer harmless for the role they played is a bit laughable as they've obviously been sucking from it too. Makes you wonder where they'll go next once the Post is gone.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The JOA was signed decades ago. The purpose of a JOA was to offer an additional editorial voice to the communities in which they served. There is a lot of capitol involved with newspaper operations and a JOA allowed for competitors to work together to minimize operational/manufacturing costs. That made the community the big winner at a time when a newspaper was close to the only vehicle for distributing information on mass scale. Being the only vehicle, competition was needed to make newspapers better. A JOA made that possible.

The Cincinnati JOA was NOT signed by Gannett. Gannett received it as part of the Enquirer acquisition. It was a wise move for Scripps to agree too at the time. Afternoon newspapers had started a decline as we transitioned from an industrial landscape to service. That meant that that the majority of folks no longer got off work from a factory M-F in the early afternoon and wanted to catch up on the news. The decline had little or nothing to do with the quality of the Post content. Rather, it was lifestyle changes.

Signing the JOA was not a mistake on Scripps part. Overlooking and allowing the shoddy treatment of the Post by Gannett over the years HAS been a huge mistake. Advertising sales fund newspapers. When Gannett took control, the combo buy was introduced. The "combo" meant that the price to advertise in the only the Post was prohibitive. Seriously, get an ad rate for inclusion in only the Post. Then get an ad rate in a non-Gannett newspaper of same size circulation. There is a tremendous discrepancy.

Yes, afternoon papers were falling in circulation because of lifestyle changes anyway but look at a Post news rack sometime if you can find one. If a Post rack even contains a paper to sell, the rack itself is old, probably rusty and falling apart. The Enquirer racks are bright and shiny and those CiN Weekly racks are rather spiffy in comparison. Would you rather buy something out of something nice, bright, clean, available and spiffy or something dirty, broken. elusive and ugly? With the exception of independent carriers, the Enquirer and Gannett control the racks.

The combination put a long standing squeeze on the Post. It is still a quality paper but there isn't as much of it as there use to be. It is very sad.

The communities are paying for the mistake of Scripps not standing up for the Post over the long haul. As of the end of the year, that price will be far more dear particularly on the Kentucky side. Thank goodness for the bloggers. Without that voice, it'd be worse. Ask the folks in the Indiana part of our tri-state if there even IS a local daily newspaper.

The Post will not be the loser in this. You and I will be.

Just one simple opinion.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's going on at the Community Press? I hear that they cut thousands of papers on the East side of town.

8:44 AM  

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