By: Joe Nicholson
Two Dailies Defy Current Cutback Mania
Even as a wave of cutbacks has washed through newspapers from coast to coast, The Dallas Morning News and The San Diego Union-Tribune are swimming against the slowdown tide by spending to grow circulation.
“It’s always a tough decision when you are dealing with limited resources,” said Barry Peckham, executive vice president at the Morning News, which has hired the Bethesda, Md.-based Barry Group, a newspaper marketing firm, to institute a sophisticated program, including high-tech software, to boost circulation. The firm’s fees generally range between $300,000 and $500,000.
“Other newspapers … probably are delaying that choice,” said Jeff Beckley, vice president of circulation at the Morning News.
The Union-Tribune hired the Barry Group for circulation and advertising projects. “Some [dailies] that might have been thinking about investing in a system may have tabled that for the short term,” said Union-Tribune Circulation Director Mike Proebstle.
The new circulation program will make it possible to “manage growth” rather than “manage decline” by finding out why subscribers cancel, said Proebstle. And the new advertising program will identify subpar ad areas, said Union-Tribune Advertising Director Scott T. Whitley.
The Morning News, weekday circulation 513,036, is owned by Belo; the Union-Tribune, daily circulation 370,395, is owned by Copley Press Inc.
“I hear lots of discussion about how the industry just contracts and cuts costs and doesn’t really look to the future – and, frankly, yes, there are some papers that do that,” said Larry Sackett, president and CEO of the Barry Group. But, he added, his firm’s clients aren’t among them.
Joe Nicholson (email@example.com) is an associate editor covering marketing and advertising for E&P.
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