All Grand County businesses must adjust to the market – including the newspaper
March 28, 2010
Every now and then it’s important to step back and look at life from a new perspective. I’ve found myself doing that quite a bit in the last month.
In the last several months I’ve found myself having conversations with business owners and managers, public officials and everyday readers of the paper. Almost every conversation has come back to how a newspaper operates. I’ve had comments like, “You don’t have any overhead,” or “just print more pages,” to “you don’t have to make a profit like other types of businesses to be successful.”
At first I was rather taken aback. But as I thought about the history of newspapers, some of the comments started to make more sense. In the early days of newspapers the entire purpose of a newspaper was providing information to readers. The overall costs of production were rather low, so advertising played a much smaller role than it does today.
While it’s still true one of the overriding functions of a newspaper remains providing accurate, unbiased information to the general public, production and operation costs for newspapers, like other industries, have increased significantly over the last couple of decades while revenue has declined. Some newspapers, like this one, have made changes to adjust the new reality, while others, like the Rocky Mountain News, have ceased publication.
The last 18 months have been extremely challenging for Grand County businesses. One of the first cutbacks for struggling businesses seems to be in marketing and advertising, the main source of revenue for a newspaper, even though numerous studies show that this cut actually hurts businesses more than it helps. Reduced revenue has a cascading effect in all businesses, newspapers included. When advertising revenue declines, cutbacks happen in all aspects of newspapers, including news coverage.
Balancing costs vs. revenue is a struggle every business owner/manager deals with on a daily basis. In newspapers the tightrope act includes balancing editorial costs, production costs, and payroll costs with advertising revenue. We balance the percent of editorial to advertising in a publication just as a retail store balances the amount of inventory to sales. In other words, the more ads there are in the paper, the more space there is for news.
Another way newspapers balance cost and revenue is by limiting the number of days a newspaper is published. In March 2009 Sky-Hi Daily News moved to a three day per week publication schedule based on declining advertising revenue. We’re about to make another adjustment.
Advertising revenue in the Monday publication continues to decline as businesses in the county continue to struggle. Therefore, this will be the last Monday publication of the paper for the near future. Sky-Hi News will continue to publish every Wednesday and Friday, and we will continue to update our website, http://www.skyhidailynews.com, daily. We will continue to provide the citizens and visitors of Grand County with accurate, unbiased news in many different formats.
As we make this move, we urge our readers to shop locally. It is imperative to our community to keep our local businesses strong. The more purchases we make on the Internet or on the Front Range rather than within our own business community, the more our local businesses struggle and the more we’ll lose in the coming months.