‘Star-Ledger’ Institutes New Single-Copy Minimum for Outlets: 20 Papers

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By: Joe Strupp

The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in a cost-cutting move, is no longer distributing single-copy newspapers to outlets that sell fewer than 20 copies per day, Publisher George Arwady told E&P.

Arwady confirmed that, as of May 5, the paper has stopped distributing to such low-selling locations, a move that also cut the number of drivers at the paper from 105 to 72.

“What we have done is reduced the number of drivers we have delivering bundles,” Arwady said. “We have reduced the number of newsstands that [sell] the paper.” Arwady says the cutback affects about 8,000 daily and 12,000 Sunday single-copy sales. The paper has a 345,130 daily circulation and 500,382 on Sunday, according to the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX Report for the six months ending March 31.

“Some people, we are hoping, will go to another newsstand to buy it or subscribe to it,” Arwady said. “We hope that if they are not getting it at X, they will go to the 7-Eleven down the street.”

The distribution cutback and restriction is part of an overall circulation change that occurred in early May, which included the closing of one of the paper’s two printing plants. Previously, the paper had been printed in Montville in Northern New Jersey and at a Central New Jersey site in Piscataway. Since May 5, the Piscataway site has handled all printing, but the paper plans to close that site and move all printing to the Montville location, which has newer presses, Arwady said.

The printing plant change also affects The Times of Trenton, which is owned by Star-Ledger parent company Advance Publications. The Times, which had been printed seven days per week by the Star-Ledger, is now printed Monday through Saturday at the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance, with the Sunday edition still produced by the Star-Ledger.

“It is all part of a cost-saving plan, as everyone is looking for cost-savings,” he said. “There were some buyouts for the pressmen, it affected all production employees.” Arwady said the final number of production workers let go is still being negotiated. He confirmed that all of the affected drivers were laid off.

The change to a single printing plant has also moved up some editorial deadlines. “There are earlier deadlines for some circulation areas,” Arwady said, but did not provide specifics. Editor Jim Willse could not be reached because he is out this week.

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