News Cycle

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Archive for February 2009

RIP Rocky Mountain News (1859-2009)

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The final front page of the Rocky Mountain News

The final front page of the Rocky Mountain News

It’s truly a sad day for newspaper people everywhere…

From the Rocky’s website:

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to you today. Our time chronicling the life of Denver and Colorado, the nation and the world, is over. Thousands of men and women have worked at this newspaper since William Byers produced its first edition on the banks of Cherry Creek on April 23, 1859. We speak, we believe, for all of them, when we say that it has been an honor to serve you. To have reached this day, the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News, just 55 days shy of its 150th birthday is painful. We will scatter. And all that will be left are the stories we have told, captured on microfilm or in digital archives, devices unimaginable in those first days. But what was present in the paper then and has remained to this day is a belief in this community and the people who make it what it has become and what it will be. We part in sorrow because we know so much lies ahead that will be worth telling, and we will not be there to do so. We have celebrated life in Colorado, praising its ways, but we have warned, too, against steps we thought were mistaken. We have always been a part of this special place, striving to reflect it accurately and with compassion. We hope Coloradans will remember this newspaper fondly from generation to generation, a reminder of Denver’s history – the ambitions, foibles and virtues of its settlers and those who followed. We are confident that you will build on their dreams and find new ways to tell your story. Farewell – and thank you for so many memorable years together.

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February 27, 2009 at 6:31 pm

RIP Rocky Mountain News (1859-2009)

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It’s truly a sad day for newspaper people everywhere…

From the Rocky’s website:

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to you today. Our time chronicling the life of Denver and Colorado, the nation and the world, is over. Thousands of men and women have worked at this newspaper since William Byers produced its first edition on the banks of Cherry Creek on April 23, 1859. We speak, we believe, for all of them, when we say that it has been an honor to serve you. To have reached this day, the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News, just 55 days shy of its 150th birthday is painful. We will scatter. And all that will be left are the stories we have told, captured on microfilm or in digital archives, devices unimaginable in those first days. But what was present in the paper then and has remained to this day is a belief in this community and the people who make it what it has become and what it will be. We part in sorrow because we know so much lies ahead that will be worth telling, and we will not be there to do so. We have celebrated life in Colorado, praising its ways, but we have warned, too, against steps we thought were mistaken. We have always been a part of this special place, striving to reflect it accurately and with compassion. We hope Coloradans will remember this newspaper fondly from generation to generation, a reminder of Denver’s history – the ambitions, foibles and virtues of its settlers and those who followed. We are confident that you will build on their dreams and find new ways to tell your story. Farewell – and thank you for so many memorable years together.

Written by newscycle

February 27, 2009 at 6:19 pm

ASNE Cancels Its 2009 Convention in Chicago

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The American Society of Newspaper Editors has cancelled its 2009 convention that was scheduled to be held in Chicago, April 26-29, ASNE president Charlotte Hall announced today. Hall said ASNE’s leadership had “concluded that the challenges editors face at their newspapers demand their full attention.”

From the ASNE website:

Hall praised the considerable groundwork done by the Society’s Convention Program Committee. She said the committee “had put in place a robust agenda that promised to address critical issues faced by editors.” Also, Hall said that it had become clear that member attendance would have been significantly lower than normal because of the stress within the industry.

“Even though the learning opportunities at the convention would have been valuable, the greatest priority is leading our own newsrooms as we shape the future of the business,” Hall said.

This is only the second time since ASNE was founded that it has foregone holding a convention. ASNE also canceled its convention during the last critical days of World War II in 1945.

This year’s circumstances are quite different than in 1945, Hall said. “This is a uniquely stressful period in our business as we face both structural change and deep recession.”

She said ASNE’s 2010 Convention remains scheduled for April 11-14 in Washington.

Written by newscycle

February 27, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Posted in ASNE

ASNE Cancels 2009 Convention in Chicago

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The American Society of Newspaper Editors has cancelled its 2009 convention that was scheduled to be held in Chicago, April 26-29, ASNE president Charlotte Hall announced today. Hall said ASNE’s leadership had “concluded that the challenges editors face at their newspapers demand their full attention.”

From the ASNE site:

Hall praised the considerable groundwork done by the Society’s Convention Program Committee. She said the committee “had put in place a robust agenda that promised to address critical issues faced by editors.” Also, Hall said that it had become clear that member attendance would have been significantly lower than normal because of the stress within the industry.

“Even though the learning opportunities at the convention would have been valuable, the greatest priority is leading our own newsrooms as we shape the future of the business,” Hall said.

This is only the second time since ASNE was founded that it has foregone holding a convention. ASNE also canceled its convention during the last critical days of World War II in 1945.

This year’s circumstances are quite different than in 1945, Hall said. “This is a uniquely stressful period in our business as we face both structural change and deep recession.”

She said ASNE’s 2010 Convention remains scheduled for April 11-14 in Washington.

Written by newscycle

February 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Posted in ASNE

Albany Times Union Braces for Imminent Layoffs

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The publisher of the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union has announced that his newspaper staff should expect a wave of layoffs, the Albany Newspaper Guild blog has reported.

Publisher George Hearst declined to release numbers or say when an announcement would be made, but said it was imminent.

“A notification will be going out to employees in the early days ahead,” Hearst said at a contract negotiating session with the Guild.

Under the contract, the Company must give workers at least 45 days’ notice of layoffs so the union can talk to the Company about any steps if possible to alleviate the hardship. If shorter notice is given, the employees must be given 45 days’ pay. …

“We are aware of the economic troubles our nation is facing,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “We know the newspaper industry is seeing more job cuts announced every day. While we do not favor layoffs, especially when our workers are already stretched thin, we will do our best to help our members through these difficult times.”

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February 27, 2009 at 11:40 am

Posted in Newspaper Layoffs

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Newsday Plans to Charge Fee for Its Online Content

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Bucking the national trend in a time of economic crisis, Newsday plans to charge viewers to access its online content, Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge revealed yesterday.

Cablevision bought the Long Island newspaper in a $650 million deal last May. It wrote down Newsday’s value by $402 million on Thursday, pushing its fourth-quarter results to a loss.

“Our goal was and is to use our electronic network assets and subscriber relationships to transform the way news is distributed,” Rutledge said on a conference call with analysts. “We plan to end the distribution of free Web content.”

Consultant Ken Doctor says it best:

Want to know how likely it is that Cablevision’s new charge-for-Newsday-online will work? A few rational arguments to follow, but consider this number: The average unique visitor on Newsday.com spends four minutes, 25 seconds per month on the site. Ouch. That number can sub for lots of focus groups, price elasticity testing and the like. Newsday’s would-be digital audience has voted with its fingertips. That number is up almost one minute from a year earlier, here courtesy of E and P’s monthly Nielsen rankings, but still ranks Newsday as having the lowest online engagement of the top 30 newspaper sites.

Confronted with having to pay for a site you may use less than five minutes a month, you think you are going to pay for it? Wrong site. Wrong year. Wrong metro area

.

Written by newscycle

February 27, 2009 at 7:24 am

Posted in Newsday

Newsday Plans to Charge Readers for Its Online Content

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Bucking the national trend in a time of economic crisis, Newsday plans to charge viewers to access its online content, Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge revealed yesterday.

Cablevision bought the Long Island newspaper in a $650 million deal last May. It wrote down Newsday’s value by $402 million on Thursday, pushing its fourth-quarter results to a loss.

“Our goal was and is to use our electronic network assets and subscriber relationships to transform the way news is distributed,” Rutledge said on a conference call with analysts. “We plan to end the distribution of free Web content.”

Consultant Ken Doctor says it best:

Want to know how likely it is that Cablevision’s new charge-for-Newsday-online will work? A few rational arguments to follow, but consider this number: The average unique visitor on Newsday.com spends four minutes, 25 seconds per month on the site. Ouch. That number can sub for lots of focus groups, price elasticity testing and the like. Newsday’s would-be digital audience has voted with its fingertips. That number is up almost one minute from a year earlier, here courtesy of E and P’s monthly Nielsen rankings, but still ranks Newsday as having the lowest online engagement of the top 30 newspaper sites.

Confronted with having to pay for a site you may use less than five minutes a month, you think you are going to pay for it? Wrong site. Wrong year. Wrong metro area

.

Written by newscycle

February 27, 2009 at 7:11 am

Posted in Newsday

Rocky Mountain News Will Close on Friday

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The Rocky Mountain News, a great journalism institution that has won four Pulitzer Prizes in the past decade, will cease operations tomorrow, just two months short of its 150th anniversary. The newspaper has 231 editorial employees.

It’s been a difficult couple of days for newspapers in the United States. This past weekend, there were separate bankruptcy filings by New Haven (Conn.) Register publisher Journal Register Co. and by the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. In addition, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant laid off 100, the San Antonio Express-News eliminated 165 positions, the Providence (R.I.) Journal let 100 people go, and the company that owns the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette and a local television station released 100 workers yesterday. The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee is bracing for layoffs that could affect between 50 and 70 employees tomorrow.

The Rocky Mountain News’ own site reports:

“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps, said in a prepared statement. “The Rocky is one of America’s very best examples of what local news organizations need to be in the future. Unfortunately, the partnership’s business model is locked in the past.”

The Rocky has been in a joint operating agreement with The Denver Post since 2001. The arrangement approved by the U.S. Justice Department allowed the papers to share all business services, from advertising to printing, in order to preserve two editorial voices in the community.

However on December 4 Scripps announced it was putting up for sale the Rocky and its 50 percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency, the company that handles business matters for the papers, because it couldn’t continue to sustain its financial losses in Denver. Scripps said the Rocky lost $16 million in 2008.

One possible buyer emerged by the mid-January deadline to express interest in acquiring the paper, Scripps said. But the buyer was “unable to present a viable plan” for the paper, the company’s press release said.

Since then, Scripps said, it has been working with MediaNews Group, owner of The Post, to come up with a plan to allow it to exit Colorado. It also shares 50-50 ownership with MediaNews of Boulder’s Daily Camera and a handful of other smaller papers in the state.

The closure of the Rocky will mean Denver will have just one major newspaper, like the vast majority of American cities today.

Scripps said it will now offer for sale the masthead, archives and Web site of the Rocky, separate from its interest in the newspaper agency.

Here is the text of the Scripps press release:

CINCINNATI, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Following a sale process that produced no qualified buyers, The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP) announced that the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado’s oldest newspaper, will cease publication after its final edition on Friday, Feb. 27, 2009.

“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” said Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps. “The Rocky is one of America’s very best examples of what local news organizations need to be in the future. Unfortunately, the partnership’s business model is locked in the past.”

Scripps bought the Rocky Mountain News, which is Colorado’s first newspaper and the state’s oldest continuously operated business, in 1926. After a decades-long circulation war, the newspaper in 2001 entered into a joint operating agreement (JOA) with The Denver Post, which is owned by MediaNews Group.

Boehne and Mark Contreras, the company’s senior vice president of newspapers, discussed the Rocky’s closure with employees at a newsroom meeting today. Rocky employees will remain on the Scripps payroll through April 28, 2009.

Citing mounting financial losses in Denver, Scripps announced on Dec. 4, 2008, that it intended to seek a buyer for The Rocky Mountain News, as well as the company’s 50-percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency (DNA), which publishes the Rocky and The Denver Post under the JOA. The DNA, a 50/50 partnership with Denver-based MediaNews Group, has not made cash distribution payments to either partner since last summer, leaving Scripps to cover the full cost of the Rocky Mountain News editorial product. In its year-end earnings report last week, Scripps disclosed that its losses in Denver totaled $16 million in 2008.

Following the mid-January deadline for parties to express interest in negotiating a purchase, only one potential buyer worked with the company’s broker, and that party was unable to present a viable plan. Since that date, Scripps has worked with MediaNews Group, to formulate a plan to unwind the partnership.

Although the newspaper will cease publication after Friday’s edition, Scripps will continue to own and offer for sale the assets of the Rocky Mountain News, including its name, masthead, archives and Web site.

Change at Prairie Mountain Publishing

Scripps also announced today that its 50 percent interest in Prairie Mountain Publishing, a three-year-old partnership involving Colorado newspapers originally owned by Scripps and MediaNews Group, will be transferred to its partner later this year.

About Scripps

The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse, 130-year-old media enterprise with interests in television stations, newspapers, local news and information Web sites, and licensing and syndication. The company’s portfolio of locally focused media properties includes: 10 TV stations (six ABC affiliates, three NBC affiliates and one independent); daily and community newspapers in 14 markets and the Washington, D.C.-based Scripps Media Center, home of the Scripps Howard News Service; and United Media, the licensor and syndicator of Peanuts, Dilbert and approximately 150 other features and comics. For a full listing of Scripps media companies and their associated Web sites, visit http://www.scripps.com/.

SOURCE The E.W. Scripps Company

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February 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Rocky Mountain News to Close on Friday

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The Rocky Mountain News, a great journalism institution that has won four Pulitzer Prizes in the past decade, will cease operations tomorrow, just two months short of its 150th anniversary. The newspaper has 231 editorial employees, according to The Associated Press. Its Linkedin profile lists its total workforce as between 201 and 500 people.

It’s been a difficult couple of days for newspapers in the United States. This past weekend, there were separate bankruptcy filings by New Haven (Conn.) Register publisher Journal Register Co. and by the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. In addition, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant laid off 100, the San Antonio Express-News eliminated 165 positions, the Providence (R.I.) Journal let 100 people go, and the company that owns the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette and a local television station released 100 workers yesterday. The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee is bracing for layoffs that could affect between 50 and 70 employees tomorrow.

The Rocky Mountain News’ own site reports:

“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps, said in a prepared statement. “The Rocky is one of America’s very best examples of what local news organizations need to be in the future. Unfortunately, the partnership’s business model is locked in the past.”

The Rocky has been in a joint operating agreement with The Denver Post since 2001. The arrangement approved by the U.S. Justice Department allowed the papers to share all business services, from advertising to printing, in order to preserve two editorial voices in the community.

However on December 4 Scripps announced it was putting up for sale the Rocky and its 50 percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency, the company that handles business matters for the papers, because it couldn’t continue to sustain its financial losses in Denver. Scripps said the Rocky lost $16 million in 2008.

One possible buyer emerged by the mid-January deadline to express interest in acquiring the paper, Scripps said. But the buyer was “unable to present a viable plan” for the paper, the company’s press release said.

Since then, Scripps said, it has been working with MediaNews Group, owner of The Post, to come up with a plan to allow it to exit Colorado. It also shares 50-50 ownership with MediaNews of Boulder’s Daily Camera and a handful of other smaller papers in the state.

The closure of the Rocky will mean Denver will have just one major newspaper, like the vast majority of American cities today.

Scripps said it will now offer for sale the masthead, archives and Web site of the Rocky, separate from its interest in the newspaper agency.

Here is the text of the Scripps press release:

CINCINNATI, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Following a sale process that produced no qualified buyers, The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP) announced that the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado’s oldest newspaper, will cease publication after its final edition on Friday, Feb. 27, 2009.

“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” said Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps. “The Rocky is one of America’s very best examples of what local news organizations need to be in the future. Unfortunately, the partnership’s business model is locked in the past.”

Scripps bought the Rocky Mountain News, which is Colorado’s first newspaper and the state’s oldest continuously operated business, in 1926. After a decades-long circulation war, the newspaper in 2001 entered into a joint operating agreement (JOA) with The Denver Post, which is owned by MediaNews Group.

Boehne and Mark Contreras, the company’s senior vice president of newspapers, discussed the Rocky’s closure with employees at a newsroom meeting today. Rocky employees will remain on the Scripps payroll through April 28, 2009.

Citing mounting financial losses in Denver, Scripps announced on Dec. 4, 2008, that it intended to seek a buyer for The Rocky Mountain News, as well as the company’s 50-percent interest in the Denver Newspaper Agency (DNA), which publishes the Rocky and The Denver Post under the JOA. The DNA, a 50/50 partnership with Denver-based MediaNews Group, has not made cash distribution payments to either partner since last summer, leaving Scripps to cover the full cost of the Rocky Mountain News editorial product. In its year-end earnings report last week, Scripps disclosed that its losses in Denver totaled $16 million in 2008.

Following the mid-January deadline for parties to express interest in negotiating a purchase, only one potential buyer worked with the company’s broker, and that party was unable to present a viable plan. Since that date, Scripps has worked with MediaNews Group, to formulate a plan to unwind the partnership.

Although the newspaper will cease publication after Friday’s edition, Scripps will continue to own and offer for sale the assets of the Rocky Mountain News, including its name, masthead, archives and Web site.

Change at Prairie Mountain Publishing

Scripps also announced today that its 50 percent interest in Prairie Mountain Publishing, a three-year-old partnership involving Colorado newspapers originally owned by Scripps and MediaNews Group, will be transferred to its partner later this year.

About Scripps

The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse, 130-year-old media enterprise with interests in television stations, newspapers, local news and information Web sites, and licensing and syndication. The company’s portfolio of locally focused media properties includes: 10 TV stations (six ABC affiliates, three NBC affiliates and one independent); daily and community newspapers in 14 markets and the Washington, D.C.-based Scripps Media Center, home of the Scripps Howard News Service; and United Media, the licensor and syndicator of Peanuts, Dilbert and approximately 150 other features and comics. For a full listing of Scripps media companies and their associated Web sites, visit http://www.scripps.com/.

SOURCE The E.W. Scripps Company

Written by newscycle

February 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Hartford Courant Lays Off 100 in Mardi Gras Massacre

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Hartford Courant Publisher Stephen D. Carver announced today that the Tribune Co. newspaper will lay off about 100 people as it faces declining advertising revenues.

An announcement posted on its website today said that the cuts include about 30 employees in news, bringing the news staff to 135 — just over half the number The Courant had at the start of 2008. Most employees were being notified this week, according to Carver.

The layoffs are mostly at The Courant but also at subsidiaries New Mass Media, which comprises the chain of Advocate weeklies, and Valu Mail, the direct-mail business owned by The Courant.

Chicago-based Tribune Co. is operating under bankruptcy protection as a result the media company’s $13 billion in debt, most of which Tribune took on late in 2007 when it became a private business. Tribune had a series of layoffs in 2008, but the current round of cuts at The Courant was forced by business conditions here, Carver said, rather than the bankruptcy.

Company-wide, Tribune is in a wage freeze announced to employees earlier this month. News space, which was cut back last summer, will remain as it is, Carver said. The Courant remains the largest news organization covering Connecticut.

“I wanted to get us into an environment where we could focus on our readers and advertisers going forward, and focus on growing the business,” Carver said. “We’re going to perform at the level we’ve been performing.”

Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent had more details than the Courant story:

Connecticut’s “oldest continually published daily newspaper” (for now) axed its D.C. bureau, half of its remaining two-person state Capitol staff, and its environmental reporter as part of what one veteran dubbed “The Mardi Gras Massacre.”

Those were among the casualties of the latest wave of layoffs at the Hartford Courant.

Mark Pazniokas, one of two reporters based at the state Capitol, has worked at the paper for 24 years and was its senior political correspondent. Dave Funkhouser held down the environmental beat.

Jesse Hamilton was the last reporter based in the paper’s D.C. bureau.

They and other reporters were notified of their layoffs in phone calls Tuesday night. They will receive one week’s severance for every year worked, plus an extra week.

Written by newscycle

February 25, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Newspaper Layoffs

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